When my daughter Jenni was younger, she used to come to the beginning of the year and start thinking about her “New Year’s Revolutions.” I loved that!
Sometimes that is what we need – a revolution, to really change us. Sometimes, our resolutions can be much simpler. And often, regardless of our intention, our resolutions don’t work, as they can be re-solutions of old problems. I found resolutions didn’t work for me that well, and some of you will know that for the last six years, I’ve deliberately chosen a theme for my year. This gives me a focus; I’m not very good at focussing. I’m interested in so many things that my
flibbertigibbet ways mean I perhaps learn lots or change in small ways, but I realised that to change in a signficant way, I would need focus, and that’s what the theme does. It means that when I’m faced with choices or decisions, the first question I ask is, “Does this fit in with my theme for this year.” You’ve no idea how much energy I’ve saved not having to dither over choices! The theme for the year doesn’t usually change as I spend the last week of a year reviewing my last year/journal and thinking about what I’d like to see in the next year, but it does sometimes deepen, or widen, as other aspects are added to make sense of the overarching theme.
2005 was a year of love and making a difference. I re-married, and to a man I loved, the man who has filled all of our lives with his huge generous loving heart,loving the house I was in, making several new friends, and finding a job I loved – or so I thought.
2006 was the year for me to develop an Attitude of Gratitude,and when journaling started to be a major factor for change in my life. The “job I loved” turned out to be quite the opposite as the culture was the opposite of my values. Instead of “giving back” to the community and making a difference, I found a place where people were not respected or valued, and I felt like I’d stepped back 30 years. It fundamentally challenged my views on who I was, and I found myself going into a spiral of depression, shutting myself off from everyone and doing nothing but sitting on the couch curled up watching TV. Then I came across NLP, Neuro Linguistic Programming and started to learn how I was actually responsible for changing my attitude, and if I could change my attitude, I could change my life. I say started to learn, as that’s an ongoing lesson for me. But fundamental to moving my mood was forcing myself to find things to be grateful for. I hadn’t realised how negative I’d become, and the first week or so I struggled for an hour to find ONE thing to be grateful for, but after that it became easier. How can I not be grateful for a cup of tea prepared with love, for a warm bed, for a roof over my head, for my beloved children, for Lee, for my faithful loving friends, for the ability to read. Anytime now I feel my mood dipping, I go straight back to this.
2007 started off as the year of Learning Lessons About Living With Debt when Lee’s business collapsed for a variety of reasons (most of them due to the unexpected actions of other people which was quite difficult to deal with). We were determined to pay as much as we could back rather than go bankrupt, and we were very frank with the kids. And that’s when it started to be what it ended up as – the Year of Grace. From Jenni and Andrew coming to us to offer us all their savings, to friends offering us holidays, to free gifts of cars (yes, a car was given to us!) and to a £20,000 debt simply inexplicably disappearing, this was an amazing year where I realised life is so much more exciting and wonderful than you could ever imagine.
2008 was the year of Saying Yes! I said NO to often before – “No, I can’t do that,” “No, I can’t afford that,” “No, I could never do that” and to often, “No, I’m not good enough to do that.” This brought a lot of exciting and quite different things into my life, moving me out of my comfort zone in so many ways.
2009 was my GAP year. In that year, the goalposts moved considerably, and it was a year where I was very content, had no great desires to BE or DO. For a while, this unsettled me – I have a restless nature, and a perfectionist tendency, so WHY could I not come up with a theme for the year that really worked? And yet, in my GAP year, I learned that contentment is a blessing not everyone achieves. My friend Diane called it my GAP year – my Growing A Plan year; and perhaps she was right 😉
2010 was the year to Be Me. I’m very good at being All Things To All People. I used to be very good at wearing lots of different masks, and sometimes that tendency is still there, but in the way that the themes develop, what I realised was that actually, to be ME, I had to find MY voice. My brother said to me, “when are you going to stop reading all the time and just accept you have all the answers inside you anyway. Yes, you can learn from other people – but stop saying you’ve read something in a book to justify what you believe or to hide behind.” Gulp. So I decided to find my voice; and like the Lion from the Wizard of Oz who went looking for courage that was already there, I found that my voice was indeed always there inside too. I found it at work,in social situations, in Toastmasters, on Facebook, in Walking the West Highland Way, in and through the Happiness Virus, and at my eldest son’s wedding.
So this year, 2011, is a year when I knew I wanted to see some changes, so it is going to be the year when I gain a Healthy Balance of Creativity and Outrageous Joy.”
I’m very creative and have forgotten to be creative. My life last year was very unbalanced and quite stressful. I went from the last three months of 2009 being the quietest ever of my life to the busiest year ever, and that isn’t healthy. It didn’t allow me to think and it didn’t leave me much space to journal, even though I find journaling is a key tool for helping me balance my life or gain insight, and it’s why I intend to run courses on using Journaling in Daring to be Happy. So this year, I want to get back to being healthy and fit, and I want my life to be balanced. It’s not just about being in control (though feeling out of control isn’t very pleasant), it’s just that balance feels good!
And I know now that empowering people to be happier is part of who I am, so who knows where that will take me this year? But I read a quote in a book called Ask and It Is Given and “Abraham” says there that I’m not actually here to move forward (that relentless drive I have for continuous improvement took a knock there); actually, I’m here to know outrageous joy. Now at this point I’ve no idea how to feel that or know that – BUT if I don’t put it “out there”, I won’t look out for it or plan for it – or recognise it when it arrives. What I’ve also realised, since putting that there as the main theme, is that for this to happen, there are two key things that are new for me that will underpin this. One is mindfulness; the other is self-compassion, accepting me as me, both the darkness AND the light, and learning to truly love myself, drop the quest for perfection and just be gentle on myself… so watch this space.. I intend to keep myself focussed by using the blog too…
Strange thing is, once I’d written this, I spent an hour or so with my journal and Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. Well as if I needed it, here’s the evidence that I’m on track with my theme – and that the Universe listens..
I said in this that Outrageous Joy was part of my theme, even if as I wrote it, I wasn’t sure what that would mean or feel, or if I would recognise it. The very next chapter I read was all about Joy, knowing what it is and feeling it! Brene says that Joy and Gratitude are inextricably linked in themselves, but they are also linked to “a belief in the human interconnectedness with a power greater than us.” That the Greek word for joy is chairo – which means the “culmination of being” and the “good mood of the soul.” And that if we don’t practice gratitude and allow ourselves to feel joy, we actually miss out on the two things that sustain us when the inevitable hard times come.
I THEN come across a whole chapter on creativity.. “As long as we are creating, we’re cultivating meaning,” and “The only unique contribution that we will ever make in this world will be born of our creativity.”
And her very last words? Well read these for yourself.
“Revolution might seem a little dramatic, but in this world, choosing authenticity and worthiness is an absolute act of resistance. Choosing to live in love with our whole hearts is an act of defiance.”
HOW Super cool is all that?!!