Rethinking New Year’s Resolutions
Last August, as fires and floods ravaged our beautiful state, I found myself examining the resolutions I’d made for 2013. Late summer was ripe as a western slope peach dripping with the promise of an abundant harvest and an extraordinary fall. During numerous drives to the mountains with my daughter, Mikelle, we were able to connect with nature, breathe in the clean mountain air, and put our feet in the creek – and I was able to reflect on my goals and resolutions that I had made at the beginning of the year.
During one of our outings one afternoon, after enjoying our picnic in the hills, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. Within minutes, the clouds swallowed the sun and the sky grew darker. I packed up my folding chair, and loaded the back of Mikelle’s wheelchair with the dirty blue thermal bag carrying the remnants of our outdoor feast. I checked my phone before leaving, and saw the text I knew would come one day from my son, Kasey, that “Dad is not doing well. It won’t be long.”
It had been over two decades since my marriage to Kasey’s dad had ended. There were times I felt that our divorce would never die, especially since Mikelle’s special needs required on-going support, but on that August day, it was over.
After his father’s passing, I delved into the blue plastic tubs full of family pictures and helped my son prepare the eulogy he would give at the family gathering of his father’s new family. I thought that time and distance would make this easier, but revisiting the past brought up many emotions I thought I had long since set aside. Gratefully, the perspective and wisdom I gained through the years made it easier to navigate the journey through the lingering feelings for my ex-husband and the memories stored away in both the fuzzy, out-of-focus Polaroid pictures taken as young college kids and the crisp, perfect photos of our wedding day.
My sojourn through the past helped me come to the conclusion: most resolutions don’t work because they are not “Re-SOUL-utions”. After this excursion into the past, I decided to up my game. I am re-thinking life and in 2014, I resolve to “re-soul”.
I began by listening. It is a practice in which I continue to improve upon.
Not too long ago, I resolved to listen to my urge to learn how to dance. I tried Tango, East Coast Swing and ultimately settled into Salsa dancing. I discovered that dancing wasn’t just an item on my “Bucket List”, it was more than that. I learned my soul sought more than just the goal of physical movement; it sought freedom, balance and presence in every moment of my life.
St. Augustine captures the brilliance and meaning of dance in this quote.
“I praise the dance, for it frees people from the heaviness of matter and binds the isolated to community. I praise the dance, which demands everything: health and clear spirit and a buoyant soul. Dance is the transformation of space, of time, of people, who are in constant danger of becoming all brain, will or feeling. Dancing demands a whole person, one who is firmly anchored in the center of his life, who is not obsessed by lust for people or things and the demand of isolation of his own ego. Dancing demands a freed person, one who vibrates with the equipoise of all his powers. I praise the dance. O man, learn to dance or else the angels in heaven will not what to do with you…”-Saint Augustine
Is your soul seeking, too? Try this quick exercise and see what it will bring to your consciousness: Write down the first three words that pop into your mind; it helped me to discover and capture the essence of I wanted. Don’t worry about how and when you will make it happen; once you have clarity about your desires, your subconscious will take care of the details. This practice is amazingly effective!
When we just let go, we have the ability to create amazing journeys. It sounds so simple, but letting go is often one of the most challenging aspects of personal growth. Without the old familiar comforts and miseries, it is easy to feel lost. Letting go of the familiar may sound like weakness, but in fact, it creates strength. It allows us to set aside our notions of not being good enough or not being “ready”.
Self-doubt and fear can strangle any New Year’s “reSOULution”. The ego fights to maintain the status quo, chained to our doubts. The change of letting go makes us confront the unknown and test uncharted aspects of our skills, talents and abilities. By rethinking and refreshing our past dreams we can discard the comfort of our “known” discomforts, and find the courage to be ourselves. The coming year has arrived, and it is time for us to pursue our destiny.
While drinking my hot cup of coffee on this cold winter’s day, the scent of a hearty cinnamon roll wafts through the air as I decide what I need to prune from the tree of life this year. It’s tempting to clip and discard the dead branches; throw out what I know is broken. A more fruitful approach, however, it to make conscious choices about what to trim from your particular tree, keeping what works but removing what takes away from the energy to produce a bountiful harvest.
I have always been a caregiver, a port in the storm, a solid rock for those in need. This year, I choose to transform my need to save the world, and focus on making my dreams and desires a reality. What will your choice be?
My heart is full of “reSOULutions” for 2014, and this will be my focus. How about you? How will you “re-soul” this year?