[I started this post at 10 am on 01-01-18. It’s taken me all day to finish. Which says something about how the day has gone. Thanks for being patient with a very late post.]
Hello, fellow travelers. How are you on this first day of 2018? Is it a big celebration day for you? Or is it just another day, except now you have to write 2-0-1-8 instead of 2-0-1-7?
The first day of the year is kind of big deal for me. I was talking with my husband about it- he wondered why January 1st was more interesting to me than December 22nd – the day after Solstice and the beginning of the awakening of the season of light. I had to think about my answer.
Numbers are a beautiful language to me and so the change from 2017 to 2018 is significant in a way I feel inside myself- just a little shift in energy, a shift in the language, that makes me feel a tiny bit different. Some people don’t register this at all- but it shifts something inside me.
Truth be told, the point in the ‘new year’ where I feel alive and dedicated to something actually starts on the Spring Equinox- that’s when Life is starting to push its way up into visibility. So, what I’m doing now, in the dark of Winter, is more like planting seeds, knowing they will come up at some point. Even though the days are getting lighter by degrees, it’s still dark, still winter, and I think it’s good to stay low, quiet, and comfy. There will be time for rising and working and shining soon enough. But, yes, the change of the calendar does put me in a mood to take the small actions that will bear fruit later on.
Which is to say, I do set intentions for the new year. But I also know that changing my life requires actual fucking work and action, so I better be prepared to put my time, effort, and attitude behind what I want to accomplish.
Before we head into what I’m hoping to accomplish this year, I want to talk about some things I’ve learned about myself this year.
:: insights ::
In 2016 I learned that sometimes I have to let go of people because caring for them is hurting me. I have a huge heart, I love to love people- to let them know they are special, loved, and important to this world; I love to help people heal and feel strong and sure again. But there have been a few times when I’ve let that go too far and ended up hurting myself instead- giving too much. In 2016, I learned to let go of things and people and experiences that hurt that way.
In 2017, I learned that letting go is sometimes more complicated than that. Sometimes letting go means I am keeping someone else from hurting- that my attention and care might actually hurt another person. It’s weird to say such a thing, I know, but that makes it no less true. I learned to get better at cutting off one-sided relationships (but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt any less) and also to keep people safe from me by burning bridges or pushing them away. And that letting go is a multi-faceted decision sometimes.
[And also- I just suck at letting people go. I want to love people, so much. And if I can’t, letting them go is like the worst roller coaster ride ever. It takes time and it’s up and down and I just suck at it. I don’t know that I want to get better at it- I don’t want my heart to harden. But also…gah…it hurts to fight yourself for what you want but know you can’t have.]
This year I learned how and when to take risks. I don’t like taking risks, they scare me to death, but I will do it if there is some assurance of a good outcome. But this Fall I learned to risk even if I have no idea of the outcome. I learned to risk just because I desired something. And it’s thrilling, but it also pushed huge amounts of cortisol into my system and wrecked my adrenals. Still, it was worth it for what I learned and what I got out of it.
I learned that I can speak to a group of 200 people if I feel comfortable with the topic and have a decent outline for the content, but that if you get me into a 1:1 conversation that I care about a lot, I turn into a spaghetti ball of anxiety. And not a nice one that sits on a plate and just spreads, but rather a spaghetti ball that is dropping through air and quickly falling apart – at least that’s what it felt like on the inside. I’ve never experienced that before. But then, I’ve never taken that high of a risk before. Scary as fuck. Did it anyway. Learned a lot.
I was reminded, once again, that the heart is a house with many rooms. And you never know who or what will take up residence within our heart, or exactly how they will occupy the space. I also learned that I can lie to myself about what I feel for or want from people. And this is something I have to be very careful of from now on. Desire is sometimes full of surprises.
2017 also taught me that I can be tough as nails when needed, and also so overwhelmed that I fall apart. I’m not good at falling apart- I’m the strong one- but it happened this summer and I learned a lot from the experience. I know that I would like to prevent falling apart in the future, but even if I can’t, I can do it with a tiny bit more grace in the future. I hope.
I learned a really unexpected thing about myself in the last two months- that I don’t mind being sexually objectified as long as I’m sexually objectifying the other person, too. If someone is creepy, projecting their shit on me, or I don’t find them attractive, then I will create a boundary with the quickness. And- I would much rather be found sexually attractive and be interesting as a whole person (waaaaay preferable), but…I’m okay with mutual sexual objectification. I thought I was better than that, but I’m not.
I think it’s important to point out that I am a BIG believer in the idea that we never really ‘lose’ in Life. We either win or we learn. Yes, several times this year I wanted something big and didn’t get it. But what I do get is the opportunity to learn from my intentions and mistakes and try to get better (for if there is a next time) or be better then it’s still a ‘win’ to me. Which brings me to the next section: intentions.
i did some kitchen magic, too.
:: intentions and integrations ::
Based somewhat on the previous insights, but also on what I’ve learned from just watching my actions this year, I have intentions and things I want to grow and integrate into my life.
My intentions this year are thus:
consistent meditation and spiritual nourishment practice.
Spiritual nourishment is different for everyone. For me it means meditating for 15 minutes 5 days a week (no less than 4, for sure). Meditation keeps my head right, gives me stress resiliency, and makes me less of a bitch. I lost the habit over the summer and it’s really obvious that it’s time for me to get back to it. I have a longer spiritual nourishment practice that involves dancing + music + intuition + prayer and I also need to get back to that. Music really is my soul and my direction and without it I am not as whole as I could be.
less social media; more reading.
I barely read any books last year and that’s a damn shame. Granted, it was a kind of difficult and crappy year in many respects, but I don’t have that excuse any longer. Time to get my brain into a healthier place.
get to bed on time.
I’m doing this one not only because I know it will calm down my cortisol, but also because there are a lot of guilt-inducing voices in my head that complain – at several levels – when I don’t get to bed on time. I can avoid the shitty voices if I just get to sleep. Also: fucking sleep! It’s a gift! I need it.
do more of the work I’m good at.
I am really good at helping people, healing broken things and people, finding lost things and souls- I simply need to do more of it. Not sure what this will look like, but I’m ready to grow into it.
:: experiments ::
Intentions and resolutions aren’t for everyone, so I really like the idea from Amy McCracken on Facebook about experiments.
“What if instead of giant resolutions you conducted 12 mini experiments to find out if what you tell yourself is true when you think *if I just _______, my life would be different.
I asked a question on Facebook a couple of weeks ago because I wanted to know if I was the only person in the world who did this.
‘Legit question. I want to know if you do this to yourself. It’s for an experiment. Trust me. Do you have a list of things (or one thing) you tell yourself if you did that thing your life would be different? For instance, ‘If I did yoga every day, I swear my life would be different.’ If I ate fruits and vegetables, I am convinced my life would be different… Anything at all. What is it you tell yourself when you fill in these blanks: If I _____ every day, I think my life would be different.”
got more sleep
…I think my life would be different/better.
LET’S CALL OUR BLUFF. Let’s make our list of things we think will change our lives. And let’s put them to the test in month-long experiments. do one thing for a month. Everyday.
If it changes your life, holy shit, you’ve changed your life.
If it doesn’t, let that shit go. Once and for all. Never tell yourself that THAT one thing you are NOT doing would make you better. Done. Cross it off the list.
You don’t have to do an experiment every month. I actually hope that there are not 12 things on your list (there are on mine). You don’t have to do anything at all, ever, especially not because I’m proposing it. And you certainly don’t have to spill the beans about what you are committing to for 30 days.”
I love this. A way to let ourself off the hook from grand gestures and really find out what our life is about. What will really change us? What are we really committed to? Growth-junkie me digs this.
In many ways my intentions are these kinds of experiments. But I know I also want to try some new things in 2018. I want to:
- take a boxing class. mostly I want to wrap my hands with that cool tape and hit things.
- take a dancing class. burlesque. belly dancing. some kind of modern exercise dance thing. i don’t care, I just wanna move my body in new ways.
- try rowing. this past summer I stayed in a house where rowers came by in the morning and evening and it looked both exciting and peaceful. i wanna find out for myself.
::: ::: ::: :::
One of the things I know about Life now is that we can make intentions and resolutions and goals- and even reach them- but Life always also has its own agenda for us. We will have lessons thrown at us that we didn’t expect in any given year- and how we deal with them can teach us a lot. I hope that your 2018 is filled with all the good things you hope for. And when it also hands you the difficult tasks, I hope you find courage and patience and self-forgiveness to deal with them.
All my love, fellow travelers,
Joanna :: xoxo