Instead of making resolutions I would most likely ignore, at the beginning of 2011 I picked a word that would set my intention for the year. I didn't know at the time my father would cross from this world to the next in 23 days. I didn't know that my desire for "freedom" was going to be handed to me on a silver platter and I was going to stand, frozen in place wondering what to do with it.
I'm reminded of a video I saw recently about some beagles who had spent their whole lives as test animals in a laboratory. They'd never been out of a cage, seen the sunlight, peed on grass or chased a ball. I'm not sure how it occurred but a group of volunteers rescued them, undoubtedly just before the executioner's song played. The video showed how tentative the dogs were when the doors to their traveling cages were opened and they were given an opportunity to step out into "freedom." It took several minutes for one of the dogs to slowly venture out, touching grass for the very first time. Gradually, with much hesitation each dog left the safety of the only home they'd ever known. My point, is that is kind of how I felt after Dad died and the funeral hullabaloo settled down. My cage door was open, I had all the freedom I had asked for, but stepping out into it terrified me. Even when I got the nerve to leave for minutes, hours, days at a time, I always felt safest and most secure when I moved back into my own little world.
After what could be the longest year of my life I'm once more on the threshold of a new one - a clean slate, an open door - wondering what word will I choose to take with me?
My writing coach sent the group a list of questions to help us assess 2011. By looking back, she suggests, we can see what patterns developed in our relationships, writing, creativity, work, etc.. What worked and didn't work, what we'd like to take with us and expand on in the new year and what we'd like to leave behind. As if piggy-backing on that theme my Brave Girl Note for today said:
As the year draws to a close, beautiful friend, please remember that you get to decide what heads into the next year with you and what doesn't. It would be worth some of your beautiful minutes to sit down and really think about the baggage that you have been carrying around that you just don't need anymore ... and then decide that it is not invited to come with you into the next year ... and it will no longer be a part of how you view yourself, your possibilities, your commitments, the way you spend your time and what you have to give in the world.Decide what you will focus on, what you will think about, where you will spend your time and how you think about everything and everyone around you.
So here I sit, typing away instead of answering the questions. Typing, I think, has become a kind of meditation for me. I seem to get more clarity than trying to sit with my legs trying to stretch across the expanse of my middle. In the few days left of 2011 I'm going to spend some time a) answering the 2011 assessment questions b) choose a word and c) pack some of my unnecessary burdens in the old suitcase that sits in the garage taking up space that could be better used.
What about you? What hopes and dreams and intentions will you take with you into the new year? What will you leave behind? Do you make resolutions or pick a word?
In case your interested here's the 2011 Assessment:
What energized me?
What did I look forward to?
Who were my favorite clients? Students?
What strengths did I enrich?
Who were my favorite teachers?
What were my favorite projects?
What did other's notice? What did they say you were good at?
What intrigues people about me?
What was easy?
When did time expand?
When did I reach flow?
What did people ask for?
What feeling state did I most enjoy? Why?
What would I have regretted not doing?
What was challenging?
What activities were draining?
What felt like a flop?
What were my least favorite clients?
What did I not look forward to?
What did I dread?
Where did I procrastinate?
Where did I verbally vent?
Where did I feel tired?
What made me cry? Why?
Today I'm grateful for time to think. I used to be good at multi-tasking, now not so much, so having time to concentrate on things that are important is a gift.
Wishing for you a clean slate and a new box of chalk in lots of pretty colors.