I know it's well past New Years, and that's okay because this is not exactly a post about resolutions, but more a post about the ongoing struggle to be happy with a life I didn't plan, and to figure out how I can turn the life I have into the one I always wanted. Although I really enjoyed among others, Richard's post of New Years Intentions (rather than making promises to yourself you'll just end up breaking), Karen (see post: Resolved to Improve) had by far the most inspiring new years post for me. It hit home because it was not the post stating a lofty goal, nor a self-improvement failed on last year, looking to be held accountable for. Not goals set to impress or to justify. Instead, she has resolved to work on "constant improvement", and I think that is really the only noble resolution one can make. Karen picked an area of her life for each month of the year and her goal is to make "change that will stick" in these areas.
I like this idea of constant improvement--only going forward, however small the movement is, is always better than going back or remaining static. With a near complete wiping clean of the slate as far as my loosely written five year plan, and the forced letting go of many of the short term and long term goals I had set for myself, it has been difficult to know where to go.
Even though I essentially started from scratch nearly a year ago when things started falling apart, I have found a career that I enjoy, and one that I would hazard to say I am good at. Even though I had to let go of a relationship that I had devoted many years to, I have grown into a stronger, truer version of myself. Even though there were some dark months, I find myself feeling content and hopeful. Even though my body challenges me, I am alive and I am as strong as I need to be. Even though I felt very alone for a time, I feel more supported and loved than I have in years. Even though I had lost my path, I am cutting a new one as I go and am excited to see where it takes me.
And so, in the spirit of simplifying my life and cutting myself some slack, I am only choosing one area of constant improvement: practicing yes.
I have wasted so much time and energy on needless worry and anxiety, and it has not served me well. It has not enriched my life, and it has not helped me on my journey through this life. Note though, that I am also working on taking care of myself, so I don't mean to say that I will be saying yes indiscriminately by any means. My intention (note, not a resolution!) is to practice saying yes to those things that challenge me and I believe will help free me from the fear and self-judgement that have held me back so many times.
In November, I was asked to be on a segment of a TV show, and I did not reply because of fear. Even though it was probably much too late, a couple weeks ago, I replied and said yes, leaving it up to the powers that be to decide whether or not it was to be. I said yes and have chosen to believe that I will do a great job if it ends up working out.
Traveling is hard on my bod and traveling alone kind of scares me, but after a successful solo trip to LA in October, I decided to register for DrupalCon in Boston in March, committed to it before I knew who else was going or how I would manage it. I said yes and have chosen to have faith that I am strong and can handle whatever challenges arise.
New people have been coming into my life who challenge my beliefs and my usual ways of reading people and relating to them. I have always been able to get along with a variety of people and consider myself open minded and friendly, but still I can admit I have made snap judgments about people. Instead of dismissing them as people who could only be acquaintances, I am choosing to be open to seeing their strengths and their weaknesses without judgement and base the limits of my relationships on what of themselves they show to me.
Last week, I saw the call for speakers at Northern Voice's opening night dinner, and did not reply because I hate public speaking, and am afraid to put myself out there in front of my peers to speak about things that are personal... maybe too personal. But when Airdrie contacted me yesterday and asked me to speak, I agreed. I said yes and have made one more step towards sharing myself openly and believing that what I have to say is significant.
I used to feel pressure or obligation to do things and pushed myself too hard. I know it is good to push myself some days, but others I have to take care of myself and I am the only one who knows the difference. So I am going to take better care of myself not only because I have to, but because I want to. When I say "not today", or ask for a raincheck, it is not because I am saying no to you, it is because I am saying yes to myself.
It may seem small to you, but to me it is an overhaul in the way I approach the world. And it's a challenge to change something that is so deeply ingrained, even when I know it is right and I know it will only lead to good. I am going to have to work hard for it. And I believe it will prove to be worthwhile in ways that at this moment I cannot even predict.
This is the hope that I am going to carry with me, because I know that as I practice yes, sometimes it will be difficult and I will want to go back to what is easy, what is comfortable... if you see me succumbing to the fear, I welcome you to remind me to practice yes or question why I am resistant. I'm sure I will need reminding. Either way, it is a commitment to an improvement that I am ready for, and one that is necessary if I am to continue on this journey towards more happiness and fulfillment.
And so, I will practice yes until I live it. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes...