New Month, New Beginning.

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Image found via Pinterest.

I love the first day of the month.

It feels like a clean slate. Especially on a day like today where the seasons are finally turning and the sun is shining, the trees and flowers are just beginning to bloom. It makes me feel like I already to bloom.

Setting intentions in the middle the winter when I am feeling heavy and lethargic seems counter-intuitive. But now, when everything is coming back to life, emerging from its winter slumber, now feels like the perfect time to revisit my intentions.

So I take some time today to reflect on how I am spending my time, spending y days, spending my life.

Am I putting my energy where I want it to go?

If energy is my currency, how am I spending it?

Am I being stingy or spending it too freely?

I cna revisit these questions at any time of the year, month, week or even day, but a day like today feels like it is wide open with possibilities.

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The Art of Being a Resolutions Junkie

the desire map

I admit it—I’m a New Year’s Resolution junkie.

I love a clean slate. It can be my birthday,the first day of the month or week, the new moon. But the first day of the new year holds a special place in my resolution-craving heart.

I’ve tried all kinds of resolutions. The usual vague lose weight to the specific lose 20 pounds to the very specific lose 1 pound a week. I’ve set intentions instead of goals regarding my writing life, typing them up with a pretty background and hanging it above my desk.

I’ve taken workshops that use hypnosis to help us keep our resolutions. That was incredibly successful. One year I wanted to take my writing to the next level. (Not very specific, I know.) That was the year I participated in the Elephant Journal Apprentice program, stayed on as a volunteer editor, finished my novel-in-stories, and published pieces on line.

This year I am working with Danielle Laporte‘s “The Desire Map.” Instead of resolving to DO things, first I am figuring out how I want to FEEL this year.

Desire tends to get a bad rap in spiritual circles.Wanting something can be seen as coming from ego or from a place of attachment. But really, our entire life is based on desire. Every action we take from the grand to the mundane comes from our desire to feel a certain way—we want to feel good.

Even our so-called bad habits make us feel good in some way—which is why they can be so hard to break.

As a writer, I don’t have a story or character until I know what that character wants. What do they yearn for? What do they desire deeply? Once I know that, I’m on my way to a story.

So, desire is not a bad thing. Getting in touch with how we want to feel, what LaPorte calls our “core desired feeling” is essential. She says, “Small, deliberate actions inspired by your true desires create a life you love.”

I’m well on my way to discovering my core desired feelings for this year. I have over twenty hand-written pages exploring what is and isn’t working in all aspects of my life. Once I find the three or four feelings that deeply resonate with me, then each action or goal I set needs to make me feel that way. It ends up being a way to strain out all that doesn’t serve me. Does saying “yes” to that party make me feel how I want to feel? Does walking around the lake? Starting a website? Taking another client? Having that glass of wine? Each thing I want to do must pass the core desired feeling test.

Along with “The Desire Map” I just read “Better Than Before”
by Gretchen Rubin which is all about habits—why we make them and why we don’t. After reading it I realize that I love to track my progress. Even If I am accountable only to myself, once I see all those “x”‘s or gold stars piling up, I feel motivated. It’s why I drew this chart (see below) on my dry erase board. It’s great book to read to help you identify the best way for you to go about creating new habits that truly nourish you.

writiing chart

So, that’s my approach too New Year’s this year. As always, I approach all of it with a bit of lightness. It’s not life or death. I don’t want to enter the new year with this heavy burden of obligation or expectation.

Instead, I want to enter the new year with a lightness and a gentle framework supporting me that allows me to live the best life  I can, day to day, moment to moment.

How about you? What’s your approach to New Year’s Resolutions? Share in the comments or with a link to your own post on the subject. 

Embracing 2015 without Resolutions.

Image found on Pinterest via www.themindfulword.org.

Image found on Pinterest via http://www.themindfulword.org.

I am usually a New Year’s Resolution junkie.

As soon as Halloween rolls around I start anticipating all the ways I am going to improve my self and my life come January 1.

But this year, not so much.

This year, each time I came across another article claiming to make this the year that I stick to my resolutions I felt annoyed rather than inspired.

Annoyed at what?

At the idea that I have that I need to be fixed somehow.

I turn 50 in July and the thought of spending yet another year trying to “improve” myself just leaves me feeling a little nauseous. A little sad. And a lot uninspired.

I love what Pema Chodron says:

“But loving-kindness ~maitri~ towards ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy, we can still be angry. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.”

Befriending who I already am. Embracing who I already am.

Those are my intentions for this, my fiftieth year.

Befriending and embracing who I already am.

The me with the extra pounds and beautifully flabby belly.

The me who is committed to her writing and some days just wants to veg in front of the TV.

The me who drinks green juices before yoga and has a couple of glasses of wine at dinner.

The me who tries to walk a mindful path and still takes things personally, loses her temper periodically and harbors grudges she knows she needs to let go of.

I didn’t even stay up to watch the ball drop last night. I embraced the fact that I felt a little crappy and just wanted to hunker down in my pajamas and watch “thirtysomething” all night. I was in bed by 11:00.

It was perfect.

I woke up this morning not hungover and with this sweeping sense of freedom. Freedom from demanding so much from myself.

Freedom from constantly trying to fix myself.

Freedom from yet another list of tasks and goals designed to improve my life yet that always left me feeling less than.

Here’s to 2015—a year of embracing all of me.

A year of befriending who I already am.

Of seeing and being my most authentic, luminous self.

Mid-year Check-in

Photo: Karin Dalziel via Flickr

Photo: Karin Dalziel via Flickr

January found me wanting me to make yet another resolution to get more serious about my writing.

Usually this involves a detailed list of projects I want to start, finish, revise and submit by certain dates throughout the upcoming year. It ends up being a fairly grueling schedule that sucks the fun out of writing before I even begin.

This year I decided to try something different. At the end of the year, I participated in an online “Renew & Review Writing Challenge” with Jill Jepson. It helped me to look over the past year to see what worked and what didn’t in my writing life. It also helped me to clarify what I wanted my writing life to look like for the next 12 months. What I loved was how we focused more on intentions rather than goals. Goals are product, intentions are process. Goals are future, intentions are present. It just really resonated with me.

When January rolled around, I took a four-week hypnosis workshop at my yoga studio designed to align us with our resolutions for the new year. I showed up each week with the intention to show up to writing practice and life, to all aspects of it:

My writing life will continue to flourish in 2014 by showing up daily to my creativity and writing; being comfortable with not always knowing what comes next; allowing myself to play; giving myself permission to succeed or fail; being present to and grateful for the process.

These intentions held a much more fluid space than the rigid goals I’d normally set for myself. I showed up to my writing and yoga practices, letting one nurture the other. I listened to the meditations from the hypnosis workshop each night, letting the words flow into my subconscious, letting them work their magic.

It all worked. We are halfway through the year and I have a new relationship with my writing life. In six months I have:

–       Finished revising my novel-in-stories

–       Wrote an agent query letter

–       Began rewriting a second novel

–       Jotted notes for a YA novel

–       Participated in a 4-month apprenticeship for elephant journal in which I wrote 19 personal pieces, edited close to 60 and gained an in depth knowledge of social media

–       Became an elephant journal columnist once the four months was up

–       Started my own writer Facebook page

–       Rededicated myself to building a Twitter audience

All of these accomplishments are great. Seriously, I am super proud of myself. But it’s not even the main point. The main shift I’ve experienced is a more fluid relationship to my writing, to showing up to my work. Much less angst and reprisals. More joy and compassion.

And I think that is filtering into all the nooks and crannies of my life.

I can’t wait to see what the next six months hold.

How about you? Any intentions or goals for the summer? For the rest of the year? I’d love to hear about them.

 

 

Five on Friday

1. Here’s an interesting opportunity for any novelists under contract out there.

2. New Year’s Resolutions in October? Apparently so.

3. Jonathan Safran Foer on writing and the creative process.

4. This is disturbing. Foods you think are healthy or healthy-ish but actually aren’t.

5. Joss Whedon on how to be prolific.