"It does not matter where you are standing right now,
what matters is where you are headed to." ~
The New Year has once again snuck up on me! The Christmas holidays are over in our house; the tree is down and, although I love the holidays and the special time spent with family, I am once again ready to get back to the routine of day-to-day life.
Each December I create a journal. I have fun making a cover and adding a little artwork to a few of the pages. I use the journal to set goals for the coming year and keep track of my progress and other musings that run through my head. Beginning New Year's Day and throughout the next 12 months, I diligently check off each item as it is accomplished and smile inwardly with satisfaction as the remaining "to do" items dwindle. But I've often arrived at the end of the year to find that not much on the list has come to pass. I didn't take the computer course I promised myself would make life easier. I didn't clean the closets and rid my life of excess clutter. And, more often than not, I did not spend as much quality time with friends and extended family as I had planned. In each case, last year's goals would carry over to the new year. Another year or two or three would roll by and alas...no new computer knowledge, cleaner closets or quality time spent with friends had arrived in my life.
I don't make those goals/to-do lists anymore. They were neither encouraging nor affirming and, ultimately, they weren't really useful. Now, I simply think of a word or phrase that I would like the upcoming year to represent and add it to my journal. Last year my word was CREATIVITY and (surprise!) I achieved what I set out to. Unlike the goals/to-do lists of the past, I truly feel that this one simple word combined with my sincere intention added greater meaning, depth and enjoyment to my life than any of the goals/to-do lists ever did. Honestly, I believe this simple intention and the actions that followed it saved me from depression in the past year.
Suffering from very serious and complicated spine and lupus issues for much of 2016 required a great deal of my time and attention. It would have been very easy to slip quietly into depression as the medical management options became increasingly limited. However, each Tuesday afternoon I attended a painting class. The hours spent in class and later, at home working on my paintings, provided a type of retreat. Absorbed in the creative process, my mind did not wander to my health issues. I even "ran away from home" to an art retreat in North Carolina and focused on leaving the pesky health issues behind. No, the pain did not go away and the shots, surgery and medications were still awaiting me on my return home, but my spirit was full and happy. I've learned that creating makes me happy, and when I am happy and fulfilled the challenges in life do not always hold center stage, but rather slip a bit to the background.
As you move into 2017, what is it in your life that makes you happy? What allows you to escape or retreat temporarily from the challenges that life throws your way? What's your
? I encourage you to find or make time for your
this year. Don't worry so much about getting all those goals/to-do lists accomplished. From where I sit in life, looking back at my journals full of checked off items that seemed so important at the time, the truth is, those aren't the important things. The fact that I'm not a computer whiz is just fine with me. The closets all got cleaned last year when my husband and I moved. And time with friends seems to materialize much more easily when I'm happy and balanced and focusing on the truly meaningful things in my life.
For 2017, I have two words to mark my intention:
Realistic Expectations. I'm not always good at managing my expectations, so it will be interesting to see where this year takes me. I simply plan to enjoy the journey as I find out.
Here's to a happy, healthy and meaningful 2017! Hugs y'all.