Face what you think you believe, and you will be surprised. ~William Hale White
Over the past three days, I have been slowly coming out of hibernation mode, taking my time as I get back to a regular writing schedule, ease back into social media, and start making plans to meet up with friends.
The time between December 26th and January 1st is a time when I allow nothing urgent or pressing to get in my way; it is a time for me to catch up on reading, hang out with my boys, and enjoy leisurely walks with my Dad in the cold, but sunny days of winter.
I am not a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions, instead, I prefer setting intentions and then casting them out to the Universe. I also see the New Year as a chance to have 365 new experiences and opportunities to learn and grow; 2020 being a leap year, 366 chances.
This year, I noticed that many of my friends opted not to set New Year’s resolutions, instead choosing to select a word or two they want to focus on in the coming year.
“My words for 2020 are ‘focus’ and ‘discipline’” – a friend texted me.
“My word for 2020 is ‘magic’” another friend shared.
The idea is simple: just choose a word that you want to focus on in the coming year and using it to help guide your decisions and continue moving toward what you want.
I like the idea however there are far too many words that appeal to me: joy, gratitude, or passion to name a few. It would be hard for me to pick just one.
After my pulmonary embolism in 2013, I started to remind myself to “live life with purpose and intention” each day. The practice stuck. As I lounged on the sofa, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, my husband and boys sleeping (and snoring) comfortably upstairs, I wondered what word would best summarize 2019 for me.
I know I am not perfect, but I’ve always strived for perfection. Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace my flaws and imperfections, even laughed at them at times. Last year, I was honest with myself about who I am and what I want and need in life. In my journey toward minimalism, I learned that I was holding on to old identities, old versions of myself. I got rid of things that no longer served me: my wedding gown, childhood books, my children’s baby clothes, and crafting supplies. I was no longer a blushing bride, a pre-teen, a new mother, or a Room mom at my children’s school.
Last year I experienced a roller coaster of emotions with my writing. I got frustrated while I worked to balance keeping up with my blog and writing a book. There were many days where I worried and fretted over ideas, the message, the tone, and even the creativity of my words. It was when I thought about the purpose and the intention of my writing -to help myself and to help others – that I was able to see that my behavior was normal as every writer experience similar challenges.
In 2019, I traveled to London and Paris with a friend, I attended a 2-day concert with a group of friends, I vacationed and hiked with my husband and children. I met cousins I had never met before, I reconnected with family members I hadn’t seen or talked to in decades, and unexpectedly lost a nephew. A few of my friends moved away which meant coming up with creative ways (virtual coffee, social media, and random texts) to stay in touch. I made new friends and ran into old friends, picking up where we left off years ago. I often tell my children “When it comes to relationships, think of it as driving a bus, people are always getting on and off; some will stay on board for a few stops and then hop off, some will stay for a longer journey. Some will get back on your bus, others may never board again. Be grateful for each person who takes the time to ride on your bus of life.”
I made significant strides in cleaning out and giving things away to people who wanted or needed them. Donations to the shelter, donations to the school, people looking for items on Next Door, and even a friend who put “Rothy’s shoes” on her Christmas list (and didn’t get them) was delighted when I gave her a brand new pair that had been sitting in my closet for over a year.
I watched my Dad slow down a bit more this year. I experienced the disappointment of my older son’s college rejection letter. I am experiencing my younger son’s moodiness, distance, and deviance as he gets close to his 14th birthday. I see the changes in my face, and the small lines around my lips and eyes, as each day passes, I am aging.
In the early hours of New Year’s Day, the word “Acceptance” comes to mind.
Acceptance of the woman I am right now, not the younger version, not the thinner version, or even the more energetic version, but the person I am today.
Acceptance of the fact that my frustrations around writing are just part of my writing process.
Acceptance of knowing that there will always be a variety of people in my life, some may be on my bus, and surprisingly, some will get back on board when I least expect it.
Acceptance of knowing that my basic needs are being met and that helping and giving to others is far better than living with excess.
And finally, accepting the fact that time does not stop for anyone; each of those 365 days in 2019 was indeed lived with purpose and intention, words that have served me well and that I will continue to use in the New Year.