New year, new you: back to the basics

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Prior to Jan. 1 each year, I prepare a list of goals to aim toward over the next 365 days. This year was no different; however, come New Year’s Day, I abandoned several of my plans to focus on immediate, more pressing needs: my relational, mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well-being. Although fraught with copious amounts of kicking and screaming, my resolve birthed a new plan to Let go and let God, if you will. Once I stripped away the myriad tasks that occupy my planner and relinquished control of outcome-driven objectives—in other words, after I surrendered my own agenda—I returned to the basics that I write about in “Falling into place…” Not only have I been blessed with second chances, but a foundation has been laid so that, when it’s time to revisit my original goals—maybe where I left off, maybe somewhere different—I’ll be ready. As a new and improved version of me.

What new goals, if any, have you begun in 2018?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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Taking stock of the old, ushering in the new

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Two weeks ago I began the following post. This morning I found it, nearly complete, on my computer. Although not timely in relation to the date on the calendar, it may still resonate for some as it does for me: Numerous emotions course through me just a week after my birthday celebrations (yes, plural). Gratitude as I observe each day as the gift it truly is. Love for family and friends as we embrace the spirit of Christmas mere days away. An indwelling of peace as a byproduct of restored relationships. Yet, even then, a sense of melancholy over unexplored opportunities. Grief and disappointment. “What if’s” and bittersweet memories. The should’ves, could’ves, would’ves. But a glimmer of hope remains—a brightly covered package I tear into each morning with renewed expectation. As we tie up our last-minute holiday shopping and baking, wrapping and socializing, I encourage each of us to pause and reflect on the clean slate ahead.

What is one thing you’d change about the past year?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

A new lease on the New Year

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For the past 28 days, I’ve written three pages of stream-of-consciousness long hand dubbed my “morning pages.” It’s all part of a 12-week (self-guided) workshop I’m taking called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. After I dropped out of NaNoWriMo last month (see “Are you doing what you’re supposed to do…”), a friend posted a link to Cameron’s website on my Facebook page and I’ve been hooked ever since. Although I didn’t end up with a novel at the end of November, that’s okay. Because I’ve been learning lifelong tools—like how to better manage my time—that will benefit me in all facets of my life. Most importantly, I’ve realized that a good life has less to do with circumstances, and everything to do with where I focus my attention. In fact, it’s a wonderful life, indeed. One that grants me “veteran” status in Club 50 this week. And a new lease on the New Year.

What is one area you plan to focus on in 2018?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

No wrapping necessary: the gift of grace

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With the holidays in full swing (wasn’t it just Christmas?), I’ve noticed tempers are quick(er) to flare, smiles are less forthcoming and a pall of malaise feels all too real. In addition, the hours in our days are set to fast forward. I read an article recently about patience suggesting: instead of praying for it, try practicing it. With Christmas and the new year making appearances in a mere few weeks, I have no doubt there will be opportunities galore to practice patience, to extend grace. For example, choose the longest checkout line at the grocery store. Pick the slowest lane of traffic. Yield to other drivers. The more we mindfully practice patience, the more it will become second nature when we don’t have a choice about which line, lane or crisis we’re muddling through. What about the harried pharmacist, receptionist or caller, colleague or spouse, child or stranger? Practice patience, and give the gift of grace this holiday season. No wrapping necessary.

How do you practice patience?

Image courtesy of freebieshutterb at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

When all the butterflies die: look forward to new growth

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While scrolling through Facebook recently, I stumbled upon this quote: “That feeling you get in your stomach when your heart’s broken. It’s like all the butterflies died.” I know a few things about broken hearts and dead butterflies. Hope deferred. Unmet expectations. Loss and emptiness. But during this new season, I am compelled, now more than ever, to make sense of my path. To reclaim that feeling of contentment I talk about in “Try it on for size…” To don happiness as a daily accessory. To welcome new growth. For far too long my attention has been fixated inward on my needs and wants and disappointments. And it’s time for me to look outward and focus on those around me.  To take a break from the distractions and agendas and whatever else thwarts, rather than advances, my purpose. Hopefully, in time, as I breathe and pray, I will discover what makes me tick and who I’m supposed to be.

How do you know you’re on the right path?

Are you doing what you’re supposed to do or what you want to do—or both?

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Recently I texted my big sister and dumped a “woe is me” montage on her. I suck as a writer. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I’m champing at the bit. Her response: Breathe and pray—the words a balm to my spirit. Oh dear heart, if you, too, are a person who strives, strives and strives some more, it’s okay (normal even) if you don’t know where you’re going. Just breathe and pray. And ask yourself if you’re doing what you’re supposed to do or what you want to do. Because, as my sister reminded me, these might not be one and the same. You have been created to do magnificent things. But what you think is your passion might only be the tip of the iceberg. Already eight days into NaNoWriMo and, truthfully, I need to regroup. To breathe, pray and search my soul. To discover what will truly make me happy and then do that.

Are you doing what truly makes you happy?

Photo source: http://www.framesandfreckles.com.

Your breaking point: recognize the signs

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This past year seems like it’s elapsed in a whirlwind, with my goal to pursue the power of P (peace, patience, purpose and a more passionate prayer life) being usurped by the practice of mindfulness. Which makes sense, because it’s a concept that involves each of these pursuits. This past weekend, the chance to practice mindfulness showed up in a big way: As is often the case, my plans on paper did not translate well into real time, and I quickly recognized the signs that signal my “breaking” point. Close to panic mode when the little piles and pressures in front of me become overwhelming, I turn inward and disengage. Oftentimes, this means a solitary trek into the mountains as a means of avoidance. This weekend, however, I opted to dodge all outside commitments to allow my soul to catch up to my body right where I was at. To let the day unfold with no agenda. And with no regrets.

What does your breaking point look like?

Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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