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Possibilities

Possibilities

Possibilities

Hello to everyone! Welcome to 2021 and all the possibilities it holds!!  Many of us begin our New Year by enthusiastically writing our resolutions. Resolutions can provide energy and motivation as we stand on the precipice of a new year.  Each year many believe that this time will be different, this will be the year that they actually stick to their resolutions.

It is difficult to create new patterns and behaviors.  Most people will grow weary from maintaining their resolutions and end up losing motivation after a few months.   Often, resolutions are about losing weight, eating better, exercising more or not watching as much TV.   These resolutions, however, are about behaviors and do not address our inner core, our deeper needs or the feeling of emptiness.

Perhaps our New Year could be about creating a more purposeful life, a life that is dynamic and full of energy.  A purposeful life is about engaging in the things that we are passionate about and feed our soul.  A purposeful life is not about selfishness, but rather, it is about exploring how to bring joy to ourselves and others.  Priya Parker, author of “The Art of Gathering,” talks about having purpose in any of our gatherings; a birthday party, wedding, family get-together or meeting up with friends.  Parker suggests that we should identify the purpose and be creative in our gatherings instead of falling into old dusty traditions that prescribe how our gathering “needs” to be.  Parker talks about being mindful of the moment, staying engaged and bringing our full energy to the day or to any gathering

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt. 

A purposeful life is about saying “no” to things that don’t align with who you are in life or your higher purpose.  It is about being ready to say “yes” to things that bring you closer to the integrity of who you are.  It is about bringing full attention and intention to your life choices.

This New Year could be about finding what truly matters to you at your core. What helps you to be the best person you are able to be.  Instead of creating a list of behaviors that you want to change, maybe re-focus your thoughts to the things that you intentionally want to champion into your new year and consider the things that you choose not to bring into this new year.  You can start by identifying what brings you passion and joy and how you can spread it to others.

I came across a poem written in 1858 by Alfred Lord Tennyson  and as I read it, I realized how much it correlated to our current times.  I began to think that perhaps we, as a country, have not explored who we are at our core.  That we as a country have not consciously created a purposeful life and that we continue to repeat many of the items (elements) written about in this poem.  I invite you to read Tennyson’s poem and consider how it may relate to your individual life.  Consider those things that you feel need to be shed in order for you to create this new space.

Ring Out, Wild Bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Writing Prompts:

  • Make a list of things, people, belief systems, etc., that you want to “ring out” of your life
  • Make a list of things, people, beliefs systems, etc., that you want to “ring into” your life.
  • Choose one of the items on your “ring out” list and write about how that became a part of you and your life. What is the understanding about having that in your life?  How has it impacted your life? And what has it prevented you from saying “yes” to?
  • Choose one of the items on your “ring in” list and write about why you want to welcome that into your life. How does this item fit with who you are as a person? How does ringing it in add cadence to your life?
  • After writing your list of people, places and things you want to ring out and ring in, follow the pattern of the poem and replace Tennyson’s words with your own.
  • As always have fun and feel free to totally ignore my prompts and follow your passion!!
Change

Change

What is change?  Why do so many of us fear it? 

In psychology, change is viewed as a positive aspect of a crisis as it provides the opportunity to do things differently.  Yet, people fear change.  Change of jobs, neighborhoods, or schools.  As life occurs, we inevitably experience change.  There is the natural process of change, infant to toddler, school-age child to adolescent, and young adult to older adult.  There are biological changes and environmental changes.   Some changes are self-generated and under our control.  Some changes can be dependent on encounters with others – family, friends, colleagues, and intimates.  Many changes occur as a result of circumstances or fate, the proverbial “date with destiny.”

Change is inevitable and it can disrupt the usual flow of our lives, but it also provides the opportunity to examine our lives and decide whether to stay the course or to change our direction.  We can meet the change with acceptance and gratitude or with bitterness and resistance.  If we deny ourselves the opportunity to explore the change, to understand it, and to decide how it will be perceived and processed in our file of life, we can be deprived of the invaluable gift of powerful lessons. In the Psychology Today journal, Dr. Abigail Brenner wrote, “Change without transition may only serve to recreate old scenarios and reinforce old patterns of behavior – for change to have a salutary effect on us we need to learn – to effectively work with it and not to run the other way when it presents itself.”

When my son was 4-years old he began to cry when he found out that I traded our propane tank for another one.  I wasn’t able to find a replacement for our current tank, so I resorted to trading in my empty canister for a full one at my local grocery.  My son noticed the subtle differences between the one we had and this new “borrowed” one.  Through his tears, he voiced that he did not get a chance to say goodbye to it and that he would miss it.  Change.  We continually move toward it, looking to better ourselves, to improve our lifestyle, but yet, when change stares us in the eyes, we shutter at the prospects of what it will be, what this stranger offers, and if it can be trusted.

For many of us, even the idea of change is often overwhelming and anxiety-provoking. For some, change is something to be avoided at all cost.  It is important to recognize those transformative moments and find the valuable lessons in your change moments.

Writing Prompts:

  • Write a list of changes in your life.
  • Identify which changes were self-generated.
  • Identify which changes were out of our control.
  • Make a list of all the perceived negatives from this change.
  • Make a list of the valuable insights you gained.
  • Make a list of all the powerful lessons learned.
  • Finally, choose one of the items from your change list and write about it in detail. Maybe you were not able to see the gifts at the time of the change but now you can write through that change memory to identify the gifts.

Writing example

 I recently had a new stone patio put in my backyard.  There had been extensive water damage that required the removal of the deck.  Once the drainage was addressed and a beautiful new stone patio was complete, I asked my 3-year-old grandson if he liked this new patio.  His response surprised me. “No”.  He informed me that he missed the other one, the wood one with the rotting boards and uneven planks – he missed that one.  The wood deck was all he had known.  It was that wood deck where we played shaving cream games, tossing hands full of the thick white foam at each other, smearing it into each other’s hair, and making designs and faces in the foam.  The wood deck was where we sat on summer mornings and drank some chai tea, clanking our mugs together and shouting “salud” as we giggled and took our first gulp.  The wood planks became roadways for his Tonka trucks, and he raced back and forth for hours, crashing them into the side of the house while laughing and declaring a winner of the race.

The deck had several tears from the previous owner.  She had an above-ground -pool and the tears were like steps leading to the pool.  I removed that pool my first week living in the house, not wanting to be a slave to the maintenance and winter care.  The tears are now dangerous if you are not watching your step.  But for my grandson, they were mountains that he would jump off of to the lower level.  He was so proud of himself for the great height he concurred and demanded applause from all of us.  Those variations in height became cliffs that his trucks would drive off and an ambulance would rush to the scene and magically fix the trucks and declare that no one was hurt as they were returned to the higher level of the deck once again.  For my grandson, his mountains were removed, the cliffs were gone and possibly, he feared, that memories attached to those rotted wood planks, to the uneven deck that sagged under our feet, were also gone.  Change.  He voiced not wanting the change, and not being happy about the change.

This was a needed change but certainly not one I openly embraced because of the extensive work and expense to resolve the water damage.  It was a change that came from necessity and safety and at a time it determined when it would be addressed – not me.  I do, however, love the ease of movement now, the freedom of setting up my patio and arranging my furniture any way I desire without level constraints or safety issues. I love the solidness under my feet. The shades of burnt sienna, crimson alizarin, burnt umber, and black stones remind me of the rawness of the desert landscape that I once enjoyed.  My grandson has now moved his attention to the hill in the yard rolls down it and sends his trucks flying down.  Both he and his Pitbull sister, Raven, happily chase them and romp about racing to reach the truck first.  He appears to have discovered another source of fun, reaching beyond the borders of the old wood deck and creating new play scenarios and even making space for his dog to join in.  Change.

Birthings

Birthings

Birthing’s are almost always associated with having a child, but they are not always defined by the generative process

There are thousands of ways we “give birth” in our lives, such as birthing an idea, new artwork or plans for something novel in our lives.   I have experienced many different birthing’s of myself over my lifetime.  Some more painful than others.  Some bearing more fruit or a fuller and much healthier result. Other birthing’s were wrought with much loss like divorce and the death of family and friends.  Some were lower on the pain scale like when changing jobs or schools. Many others were very simple, quick and over without a pause between the before and after. Several birthing’s took a lot of planning, editing out some fluff and whittling down the initial expansive idea to a more workable and achievable reality.

We are constantly birthing and re-birthing ourselves throughout our lives as we learn new perspectives, travel and our experiences increase.  In Composing a Life, by Mary Catherine Bateson, she explores the lives of several woman who were very successful in their careers’ but later in life they changed their professional direction.  All of these women gave birth to completely new careers’ requiring them to re-define themselves as women, mothers and partners.

After several years of growing and nurturing the concept of Airmid, the labor ended, and she was birthed.  Airmid is now in the world, conceived of all the dreams, ideas and hopes for her presence in the world.  My partners’ and I held hands as we stood on the precipice of change.  We each left full-time jobs with paid vacation and health plans, to bring forth this labor of love and passion.  As we stood there, silent, hands clasped together, and our eyes speaking a mutual fear and joy, we jumped off the cliff and into a new unknown.

We birthed and rebirthed Airmid daily, nurturing her to her full potential as a mother does her child.  Those daily birthing’s, although, laborious, almost go unnoticed as do many of the smaller birthing’s everyone experiences from day to day. Today I invite you to remember, and in remembering, to honor, all the birthing’s you have had in your life. There are the birthing’s after a loss and the ones meticulously planned for, but none the less they are birthing’s.

 

Writing Prompt #1

  • Make a list of all your birthing’s, in chronological order or in thematic order (i.e. family, work, relationships) or in the order in which they occur to you now.
  • Choose one of the items identified on your list and write about that.
  • Continue to move through your list and write about each of the birthing’s you identified,
  • Write about birthing your dreams, a new business or relationship.
  • Think about times in your life that you may have changed directions professionally, academically, socially or creatively. Often one birthing can lead to many others like where you go to college could lead to where you work and start a family.
  • Write about leaving an old identity and venturing into a new one.
As always please feel free to deviate from my prompts and write about anything that emerges as you read through the above prompts. Keep your hand moving, even when the internal critic tells you that you are wasting your time or that what you are writing is meaningless – keep writing through that and into a deeper relationship with yourself.

Birth your story and have fun with it,

Dottie