**Quick note. I’ve missed writing here, and so I’ve pledged to myself to back off the all or nothing thinking, and to establish a reasonable schedule of regular writing practice for myself. This year I’ll post something each Saturday that I’ve been thinking about in that past week, starting today.**
I’ve noticed a trend in recent years – and I like it – to select or name a word for the coming year. I’ve written before about preferring the idea of stating intentions rather than creating a list of resolutions each January, and the selection of a word feels like an intentional statement. And I’m telling you the truth as I start typing this post, I don’t have a word selected yet. I’m hoping that by the time that I finish this I will. I like to think out loud as I write.
The first word that comes to mind is ‘yes’. It popped into my head a few times over the long holiday break. I felt like I said ‘no’ to a lot of things in November / December as I did my best to balance an extraordinary workload and my (often extraordinary) expectations for myself and others. And then I found myself defaulting to that ‘no’ mode, even beyond the push. So I checked myself, took a deep breath, and started saying ‘yes’ again.
I can tend towards being a homebody if I don’t watch myself. It takes effort for me to extract myself from thinking that home = tasks = productivity = good. If I’m running around too much, I start to think (worry) about what I’m not getting done at home, and once I start to worry about those other things, I’m not enjoying where I am in that moment.
Because we had to shift some of our holiday traditions around a bit this year to accommodate the travel plans of family members, we found ourselves with a very rare stretch of time off to spend just at home, with no agenda. We were already speaking of this time reverently in early November, repeating it like a mantra as we scrambled from task to task. Knowing that time was coming is what got me through December – that, plus a near-constant practice of productivity and positivity – as silly as that sounds. I knew it would be a challenge, but I treated it like it was the most fun challenge I’ve ever faced, and it wasn’t really that bad. I stayed organized, (mostly) sane, delegated without debate, and practiced being satisfied with each day’s efforts.
It felt really good to be productive and busy, and also really good to relax afterwards. To be honest, the relaxing part takes more work for me than the productivity. I took a few naps, finished a book, took some daytime tub soaks, and went to bed without setting an alarm clock for an entire week. I rarely even do that on vacation. But the rest of the time I stayed busy with year end and year beginning stuff. It was tempting to just stay in my pajamas all day and Get Stuff Done.
But that’s not necessarily the intention I’d like to carry into this new year. I’ve accepted that I’m always going to be running full speed ahead, even in those moments that I intentionally pause. But I’d like to channel more of that energy outwards, and to lean towards ‘yes’ more than the default ‘let me think about it’ (what will I have to give up? how much will I have to stretch or risk?). Maybe this is about bigger things – ownership opportunities, new positions, bigger reaches – but I’m mostly thinking about the smaller things. Those moments that pop up in the middle of homebody tasks – let’s drop what we’re doing and spend the day hiking and exploring – that I’d like to default ‘yes’ to. Moving beyond saying that I’d like to see this or do this, and actually scheduling it in that moment and then following through on it. Continuing to hone my decisiveness, and trusting my gut. I’ve been working on that for awhile now, and I like where it’s taken me.
For several years now, I’ve attended a Saturday morning power yoga class. I’ve come to love the instructor and all the regulars in the class. The room fills up quickly, and when I look around the space before class begins it fills me with such joy and energy. This morning it felt even stronger, as we all engaged in our first class of the new year. At the end of class, during shavasana, our instructor quietly placed small green cards at the foot of each mat. As we left, she invited us to turn them over and read them. Each card had a different word that might represent an intention for the coming year.
Mine said ‘sanctuary – my heart is my home’. I immediately thought of the holiday cards I had just finished, and the way I talked about home in my last post. I thought about how complicated home can be, how it holds all the joys and frustrations in such an intimate way, and can easily slide from a sanctuary to an escape, particularly when I’m nervous about stepping into something new. Maybe the word for me this year is ‘willing’ – being more open to ideas that aren’t mine or that challenge my comfort levels or knowledge or security. I like that word, and it feels as much active verb as passive descriptor. Willing.
But I’m here at the end of these words, and I still like ‘yes’. So ‘yes’ it is. It’s a simple response I can practice in my own head until it becomes muscle memory.