A Look Back and an Intention for the Future
Last year I forgot to set my intention on a word for the year. I had a good reason. I was struck by an awful flu in the new year that had me down for over a month (and buried deep into the fantasy of Once Upon a Time to be honest). So it was almost like my new year and my birthday (which is on the first week of the year) just happened without my presence.
As a result of weeks on the couch, I made some pretty big decisions about my life. To start, I committed to launching my coaching business in the months that were to come. And as I entered deeper into this commitment with myself, it felt like I was stepping into a light and leaving a heavy darkness behind. And so I knew I was doing the right thing even if it felt uncertain, scary and hard.
And for the last 12 months it has been hard. It has quite literally felt like I’ve been giving birth to something massive. Sometimes it has felt like the air between the cells and molecules of my body was shifting, and painfully so. I got sick a lot, found out I had adrenal fatigue and took a lot of naps.
But it turns out that this is a common feeling for people who are starting their own businesses, so I was comforted to know I was not alone. And now I can say that the painful shifting has eased and I feel more settled into my calling, riding a momentum that is building.
On a personal note, it’s also been a year of changing identity, shifting relationships, self-discovery and learning. Frankly, this past year was challenging for personal reasons that had more to do with my family and my self-identity than anything. But, as the Dalai Lama says, “the enemy is a very good teacher” and so I’ve learned a ton this year that has made me a better woman, potential partner, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, coach and mentor. My experiences have humbled me and made me stronger, wiser and more resilient.
Mastery — My Word for The Year Ahead
In this, the first week of the new year and the day of my 35th birthday (yes, my birthday is today), I dedicate myself to mastery.
And what does it mean to dedicate myself to mastery and why have I chosen this as my word for the year and beyond?
As Steven Pressfield in The War of Art states, “The paradox seems to be, as Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them."
I just want to be free.
I long to be free and I always have. I’ve been seeking freedom from one thing or another since I was a little girl — things that may or may not have happened in this lifetime, to me, my ancestors, family, or to my soul; things that have had me moving from one city to another, tending a new dream or adventure, or searching for a new person, place or thing to fill the void. But now most of the anxious, grasping searching has passed and I’m in a more mature place where I can master myself for greater freedom instead of seeking a new adventure, lover, project or dream to govern over me.
For a little more on the subject of mastery, Gary Keller in The One Thing states:
Mastery isn’t a word we often hear anymore, but it’s as critical as ever to achieving extraordinary results. As intimidating as it might initially seem, when you can see mastery as a path you go down instead of a destination you arrive at, it starts to feel accessible and attainable. Most assume mastery is an end result, but at its core, mastery is a way of thinking, a way of acting, and a journey you experience. When what you’ve chosen to master is the right thing, then pursuing master of it will make everything else you do either easier or no longer necessary.
This is why I choose mastery — for more freedom and ease in my life.
Mastery of my desire and aversion.
I have a yoga teacher who closes practice by saying, “May all sentient beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering and may you experience truth and integration.” However the more commonly used phrase is, “May you experience liberation.”
This distinction in the choice of words is important because it signifies a path towards equanimity (integration) versus escape (liberation) ; a path of absorption (integration) instead of deflection (liberation).
So. In order to master my desires and my aversions, I believe I must strive towards integration of both — an act which absorbs the need to run away or escape from something; an act that integrates the opposites, bringing the polarities closer to the middle and balancing the spectrum from within; an act that works to achieve more freedom and ease in life. For it is in our aversions and desires, our attachments and our fears that we experience the greatest suffering.
In 2016 and beyond I seek mastery of my desires and aversions to achieve greater equanimity within and freedom from suffering (because let’s face it, this is a path not a destination).
Mastery of my work.
I am dedicated to my calling to serve women in their professional lives and therefore I am committed to becoming more intimate with my work in a way that fosters greater productivity and expertise. In this dedication, may I serve more and more people by setting boundaries over my body of work, protecting its freedom and allowing more ease for the creative process.
For 2016 and beyond, I commit myself to the mastery of my work to achieve greater freedom and ease for myself and those whom I serve.
Mastery of my creativity.
Defeating resistance isn’t easy and I’ve been resisting my creativity most of my life — insisting that I wasn’t creative or artistic — even being told I wasn’t from programmed and blinded individuals or institutions. Little did I realize however that a lot of the pain and suffering I was experiencing was for the most part due to the lack of creative dedication in my life.
Steve Jobs is quoted in saying, “Creativity is just connecting things,” and it turns out I’m an innate connector of ideas, acts of art, people, experiences, and relationships. I strive to connect in everything I do — with nature, with loved ones, with ideas, with you.
In the year ahead and the years to come, I commit to mastering my creativity in writing and speaking to make deeper and more fulfilling connections.
Mastery of my health.
I have spent the last 35 years assuming I was committed to my health, but in reality I wasn’t actually mastering my health. And this year brought with it great changes in the way I take care of my body and it has made a huge difference in my work, my relationships and my sanity.
Dear 2016 and beyond, I am now the master of my body and I commit to saying "no" to the things that cause me pain and suffering and saying yes to the nourishment, movement and grace that feels like freedom and ease.
What is Your Word for 2016 and Beyond?
In order to figure out your own word for the year ahead, I encourage you to take some time and reflect on the years behind you. Notice how far you’ve evolved and be grateful for your teachers — good and bad — for they were all guiding you to this sacred moment, right here and now, where you can choose exactly what you want the rest of your life to become. Set your intentions today and manifest your dreams.
Here’s to 2016 and beyond, may it be full of freedom and ease for you.
With all my love,