I mentioned in a previous post about not making New Year Resolutions, but about choosing one word to guide my year. And then I never shared my word. That's because I have had a hard time finding my word this year. In years past, my word jumps right out at me. I know right away what it is. This year I mulled over quite a few things and nothing felt right. It finally came to me while I practiced yoga yesterday. Funny how that happens....you think hard about something and it just won't come. Then you quiet your mind, and amazing, there it is!
Some years ago I went to a yoga class right before the end of the year. I had a regular yoga practice at a specific studio, with teachers I liked and some I didn't "resonate with" as they say in yoga speak. This day I specifically went to the class because it was my favorite teacher. Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I walked in and the teacher was my least favorite of everyone at the studio. Hmmm. I decided to stay since I was already there. As it turned out I learned more than yoga poses that day.
During class, the teacher spoke about new year's resolutions and how almost everyone comes up with a list of tasks or things we would like accomplish in the hew year. Usually things like lose weight, exercise, eat vegetables. Quite specific and tangible and often forgotten or given up on in a month or two. If you look around, marketing totally supports this. Gyms run specials in January. There are tons of cleanses and detox regimens in every magazine. Stores prominently display vitamins, supplements, protein powders, weight loss gimmicks. Even Target has big displays of bins and organization supplies to clean up all our stuff! Everyone dutiful signs up for the gym or buys whatever product will help them be successfulBy March (if not sooner), the gyms are empty. The cleanse long gone. It just doesn't work.
I know that for years I made the same resolutions: lose 10 pounds, exercise 4 times a week, floss every day, remember friends and family birthdays with cards, and attend church at least twice a month. Every. single. year. Some things actually worked. I am happy to report that I do floss every day. Here in Winston, after a long lapse, I have found a church I love, and so far I go almost every Sunday. I am still hit or miss on sending cards. I stopped weighing myself long ago, and now I really do eat right and I am active. But as far as checking them off the list each time I made the resolution? Didn't work in the short term. Now, I'm not knocking you if you make resolutions and they work for you. But for me, the real lesson came in that yoga class.
What my yoga teacher said was to think about how you want to live your life. What you want more of. How you want to be. What you want your life to feel like. It's not about accomplishing things but about how you want to be. If you think about the past year, what feelings you want to let go of so you can become who and how you want to be. Maybe you had a lot of anger and need peace. Maybe lots of stress and overbooking, and you need calm. Maybe lots of sadness and you need healing. Quiet. Space. Connection. Purpose. Health. Joy. Play. Reveal an intention for how you want to be, and sum it up in one word. That word is your intention for the year. It guides you each day as you make decisions, make plans, take action. And that my friends, was a great lesson for me. Deciding how you want to live your life. And that you can learn something important even from a teacher you don't "resonate" with.
One year my word was space. Tom had gone to Afghanistan for the whole year. I wanted to hold space in my life for him. I also wanted space in my closets, cabinets, kitchen, pantry. Clean up. Donate things I didn't need, use, or wear. Buy only what I needed. Keep space in my life. That was a good year. For 2015 my word was grounded. I had so much change in my life. Quit job. Move to Austin. Be a full time student. Become trained chef. Move in with my mom. Find a new life. Move to NC. I am a person that is comforted with ritual, routine, and being at home. With so much change it was easy to wish it away, to keep focused on the future. To keep focused on the next thing, make a timeline, make a plan, hurry up. What's next? I decided I needed to be grounded. So that was my word. Grounded. Enjoy the moment. Have faith that it will all be as it should. Enjoy each day and not rush to what is next. Or worry about what was to come. Be grounded in the moment. Was it successful? I don't know. I don't think that is the point. I do know it was hard but I tried every day to just be with it. And certainly I do think it helped guide me to live my life the way I want.
As I said, this year I thought for a long time about my word. When I look at 2016, I need to find a job. Make friends. Find a community to connect with. Find a purpose. Continue to foster relationships with friends and family. Stay connected with friends from Texas. Make my new house and town my real home. So much to accomplish. Since I am by nature a take-charge, type A person, my instincts are to take action. To make it all happen. I thought I had decided on "lean in" as my word. You know from Sheryl Sandberg, that advice for women to focus and give it good effort to make it all work. (Disclaimer, I have not read the book so my interpretation may not be quite right.) My though was I needed to be all in......commit to a job, my friends, relationships, volunteering....lean in hard and get it done.
It makes me laugh. So totally me. Yesterday I decided hard charging forward is not the path. I have been working hard on employment for months and so far not much success. Clearly that is not going to work. The word that came to me is open. That is how I need to be. Open to what comes. Open minded to what the possibilities are. Open to meeting new people. Open to doing things that make me uncomfortable. Open to just waiting. Open eyes to see and learn about all that is new around me. Open heart. Open mind. Open eyes. Open. That is how I want to be.