Archives for posts with tag: 2016 begins

A new year begins today. The winter sun hits the glass of the patio door and fills the room with light and warmth. My feet are extended into the rays of sunshine spreading across the carpet. I wiggle my toes, feeling them warmed in the filtered winter sunlight. The remainder of my second cup of coffee has grown cold; I continue to sip it, content with the exceptional flavor which is undiminished by the cooling. I am smiling.

New beginnings are quite variable, every experience, each perspective, just a bit different from another. I am not the woman I was on the first day of 2015. That woman was stressed to a breaking point, yet again, mistreated in one relationship, insecure in another, restlessly contemplating where a third might take her, given the difficult circumstances generally.

The path ahead wasn't obvious sometimes.

The path ahead wasn’t obvious.

It was a complicated year. An abusive relationship was creating roadblocks to progress in therapy through behaviors that seemed willful or deliberate at times – it would prove irrelevant whether they were deliberate; the outcome was damaging. The future of my relationship with my traveling partner seemed insecure, and despair crept into my experience a number of times. I felt frustrated, held back, and uncertain where my path would lead me, but committed to continuing the journey. I continued to practice new practices that were definitely doing good things for my resilience, improving my ability to maintain a neutral, honest, and healthy perspective, and helping me manage stress. I wasn’t sure it would be enough to thrive on…and I wasn’t sure that the positive changes I could see developing would be enough, soon enough, to hold on to what I valued most in life – or love.

When 2015 began, I was struggling with attachment, afraid to let go and just be. I struggled with blaming myself for things going on that weren’t about me at all, and I struggled with feeling responsible for making a relationship work, in which it had become clear the other didn’t actually want things to work and was not invested in building a functional relationship with me. Accepting that was painful (rejection hurts) and it was hard to just breathe and let it go without ‘closure’, or honest communication, or even basic civility. The pain diminished in the instant I remembered that the character and behavior of that other human being is no reflection on me whatsoever; she is her own human being, and all the consequences of her choices are entirely her own (as mine belong entirely to me).  That was an important lesson and turning point.

It has been a year full of important lessons in taking care of myself, in emotional self-sufficiency, and in learning to love well, and without unhealthy attachment – with the result that my relationship with my traveling partner has grown and deepened wonderfully, and I am so much more able to love well, generally, and to listen deeply. I ended the other, abusive, relationship (keeping a promise I made to myself long ago), and I declined to pursue a relationship with characteristics suggesting high risk in a number of areas of life in which I’m not inclined to compromise. I’ve stopped trying to meet needs for connection and intimacy through sex, with result that sex is improved; I have sex only in relationships in which there is already intimacy and connection. 2015 taught me a lot about who I am, and what I really need to thrive. In 2015, I learned a lot about ‘enough’, and began investing in lasting contentment, instead of chasing more/better.

2016 begins well. I could stop there. I have, a number of times already. No map. I don’t really know where this new year will take me, what I may learn, gain, or lose. I don’t know what’s up ahead on this journey, and I am feeling tranquil and unconcerned about that – making it hard to write, honestly. 🙂

Today, though, is a good one for contemplation. I will take time to consider the year-to-come, to wonder, to dream, to plan, to question – it’s the questioning that is perhaps most relevant to where I may find myself a year from today. I’ll think it over, and  make some notes; I find it helpful to look back with some context. I’ll write in my private journal, and send myself an email ‘from the past’, as I did last year – it was a special moment this morning when I got that email from myself. Being able to read my own stern warning to end an abusive relationship with the comfortable knowledge that it was done months ago was validating; I am learning to take better care of myself, and my heart.

The view of 2015 is very different from this perspective. The path ahead seems a bit more clear, now.

The view of 2016; the path ahead seems a bit more clear, now.

Today is a good day to take care of me. Today is a good day to begin again. Today is a good day to be my own cartographer, on this journey of my own making. Happy New Year! Are you ready? Let’s change the world!

…Unless you are ready to choose change…unless you use verbs…unless you begin again. And again. And yet again…until the thing about which you propose to be resolved becomes a quality about who you actually are. Just saying. It’s said better here, perhaps. Or here. Or here.  All of them are fairly easily summarized – you can choose change, it does require verbs. There are no shortcuts, and there are no excuses.

Sometimes it feels like an uphill climb.

Sometimes it feels like an uphill climb. There are unexpected obstacles. 

The most frustrating thing about ‘New Year’s resolutions’ is that they so rarely result in real change (for many people – your results may vary). The ‘why’ of that is so simple; there are verbs involved, and a requirement that our intention, our will, and our actions align to result in change. No verbs? No change. I can want to lose weight, intend to lose weight, and make a good plan to reach a reasonable goal; if I do not practice the practices that get the desired result, I will not lose weight – and the frustration and disappointment of personal failure can so easily (and thoughtlessly) be transmuted to emotion-driven over-consumption of unneeded calories. Bummer. A lot of things work that way; feelings of futility and frustration easily result in a level of ‘giving up’ that results in not only not making the desired change, but even over-indulging the undesirable behavior. Huge bummer.

It’s not easy to stick with a commitment to change, whether the change involved is quitting smoking, losing weight, or giving up being a colossal psychotic raging bitch 24/7 to people you say you love; the nature of the change itself is almost irrelevant to the success or failure of the endeavor. How much you want it doesn’t have much to do with whether you will succeed or fail, either; the most earnest heartfelt desire for change is still simply an emotional experience (although one that can be leveraged for motivation, still just a feeling). Add to that the discouragement of loved ones in our support system being less than ideally encouraging – or frankly skeptical of success – and it can seem an insurmountable roadblock to change, just having emotions at all! Harsh – we’re so human! How do we get past all that? I don’t actually have an easy answer there; I begin again when I ‘fail’, and use the opportunity to learn and grow. There may be an easier answer, but I haven’t found it – and at this point, I’m not looking for easy answers. I’m content with questions… and verbs.

Go ahead. Choose change. Make a resolution. Be the person you most want to be in 2016! It may not be ‘easy’. You may fail – you may fail a lot. Incremental change over time is a real thing, though, and we do become what we practice – no kidding, that’s real, too (and true of behaviors both nurturing and damaging). Begin again. Start over. And again after that. Use a verb – use a lot of verbs – exert effort fearlessly; all you have in this lifetime is this lifetime, itself. Spending an entire lifetime not even making the attempt to be all you most want to be (as a human being) seems pretty… empty. Pointless? Wasted. So…later in January? February? Whenever you find you’ve quit, given up, or stalled – begin again. That’s actually ‘all it takes’ – begin again. Did you fail again? Okay – begin again. Again. And again. It’s the nature of practice to require repetition. 😉

One last bit on this, from a different perspective… Some of you out there could stand to treat your fellow human beings better than you do. (You know who you are, and your neighbors do indeed hear you; the world sees you in action pretty much every day and very few people are actually deceived.) Are you relying on rationalizations and excuses to get a pass for the mistreatment you heap upon your fellow human being? (Hormones, fatigue, alcohol, pain, illness…) Maybe you just feel righteous and justified or entitled. You can choose change, too. You can also refuse to choose change, but you don’t get to choose to avoid responsibility or accountability for your damaging behavior from that moment that your loved ones wake up to the awareness that you are in fact choosing who you are, and choosing to behave in a damaging ways to your loved ones (whether you call it abuse or not). If you have been told that your behavior or language is hurtful and you continue it, you are choosing and your behavior is no longer easily defined as ‘unintended’; it is not an accident, and you did indeed ‘mean to’.  2016 could so easily be the year you choose differently, learn to love, and learn to treat other human beings well. 2016 could also be the year that you don’t choose to behave any differently (sadly this is more likely)… but 2016 could also be the year your loved ones finally wake up to their value as human beings and that they don’t deserve to be mistreated, and don’t have to take it anymore – and walk on, to a life in which they are valued, loved, and treated well. (They are free to choose change, themselves, instead of enduring your abusive vile shifty behavior or mistreatment. 🙂 Just saying; it’s a system that works nicely with adequate use of verbs.)

Practice the practices that take you closer to being the human being you most want to be.

Practice the practices that take you closer to being the human being you most want to be.

So…here it is… the cusp of a new year. As arbitrary as that really is, it is a moment – and you can choose change. Will this be the year you become the person you most want to be? Will you change the world? Will humankind’s global experience improve in your hands? Will you love well? Will you speak kindly? If practice makes perfect, what kind of world are we perfecting in 2016?