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Lessons from 2020

  • My priorities have been shaken
  • My grief is just under the surface and bubbles up at the least expected moments
  • My emotions have been on a roller coaster: highs so high, lows so low, and curves coming out of nowhere and everywhere
  • I am angry, distraught, thankful, joyful, encouraged, inspired, devastated, perplexed, hopeful, humbled, disillusioned, heartened – all in the same day, at times in the same hour or moment
  • I have disintegrated as some basic beliefs and trusts have been challenged and destroyed
  • I have been transformed as pretensions and ego have fallen away
  • I have so many things to be grateful for
  • My priorities have been shaken

So then, what do I intend for 2021, now knowing I have such little control over much of anything?

I gave up New Year’s resolutions many years ago. Better to be done with them altogether than go through the annual February ritual of letting them slip quietly away. I turned instead to intentions. Or themes. One word to describe what I would choose as my theme for the coming year, being as discerning as I could, choosing a word that I could pack a lot into.

I find my journal entry for the first day of 2020, my hopes/intentions for the year that turned out to be nothing like I planned.

I see that I used words like launch, develop, create, purpose, responsibility. These are words that claim control. I also find phrases like:

  • harmony doesn’t occur by making superficial changes
  • transformation occurs at the base level of consciousness

Were these my words or, more likely from one of the inspirational sources I turn to? And, if so, which? I don’t footnote my journals and sometimes I wish I’d be more academic. But I’m not. So there. Someone said it and the meaning spoke to me. And looking at these phrases now, I should have taken them as a warning.

And then I find a paragraph about blocks to finding my own inner truth:

My blocks are human-centered beliefs like:

  • I have to do it all
  • I am responsible for creating order
  • I am responsible for making things work
  • If it’s to be, it’s up to me
  • I have to fix everything I see

NO, NO, NO, NO, and NO

Let it go

These are mantras I’ve heard all my life. I accepted them. Believed them. Built much of my life around them. And here was this wisdom source identifying them as blocks to finding my own inner truth. I not only recognized these sayings but began to see how they held me captive for so much of my life. Early on, I thoroughly took on the “rugged individual” persona who was SO responsible that asking for help – ever – would be an admission of inadequacy. Don’t you see that if you believe you have that kind of responsibility and believe that that’s what other people expect of you, you can’t afford to ask for help? It would let them see that you’re not at all who you’re trying so hard to be. In reality, you’re not that rugged, you’re pretty insecure, and you don’t know much at all. And you’re stuck in this whirlpool with no way to get out. Except by saying no to each of these lies.

NO, NO, NO, NO, and NO

Let it go

I continue reading:

2020 is a new beginning. It offers a new beginning, but only if I am open, only if I suspend my negativity, my own beliefs that limit me, my preconceived ideas of how thing are and also of how things “ought to be.”

What if I could simply BE?

Be open
Be curious
Be like a child eager to learn

That is a new beginning.

Those are some of the things I wrote at the beginning of 2020, the beginning of a new decade and a year that would change the world, transform us all – or not. At least we were given the opportunity for transformation as we hung suspended in our own separate cocoons. Looking back, some of the words I wrote seem naïve. Some seem almost prophetic. That’s the way journals are when we look back. Both/and. We cringe at our naïveté until we quit judging our younger selves with older, more experienced eyes. But I see something else in those words. An openness to letting go of control. I just couldn’t predict how thoroughly that inkling would be tested.

January 1 is the first day of a new year, my day of reflection and intention. The symbolic turning of the calendar page from the old year to the new always brings me hope. This year more than ever as I consider what we’ve gone through. Even knowing it’s not over, there is hope in turning that page.

I begin to name the things that bring me joy. I do this in a mind-map brainstorming way where I put the year in the center of the page and then name what is most important to me. What have I eliminated from years past? What has remained constant. The constants have been, of course, family and friends. Other constants are nature, art, writing, mandalas, photography. There are other joys and interests that are becoming more prominent than in years past.

Once I name my big rocks, I just write stuff that pops in my head – words, phrases, lists.

Absurdity comes out of my pen onto the page. This whole exercise is pretty absurd if I think in terms of 2020. How much control do I really have? Not much. But not any if I don’t at least name some intentions. At the heart, in my heart, I hold on to optimism.

One thing I write on the page, based on my 2020 lessons: Schedules and organization are only important to allow more time for HEART things. You may not think this is profound, but for a scheduler and organizer, for me, it is.

Some other things I wrote:

  • Listen to the quiet
  • Be patient with ambiguity
  • Deprogram guilt (Not just “let go.” Look it square in the face and ask what hold it has on me and what good it’s doing. Banish it.)
  • Every now and then do nothing
  • Where is my heart?
  • It’s ok to try things and then let them go
  • In all things, discern: where is my heart?
  • Whatever you choose, do it whole-heartedly

HEART kept coming up, so I knew this is where I’d find my theme, my intention. I compiled a list of words related to my heart center, my heart energy chakra:

  • Harmony
  • Be open
  • Enthusiasm
  • Acceptance
  • Love
  • Embrace

And there it was: EMBRACE

Whatever you choose, do it wholeheartedly, embrace it.

Take on only what you can embrace.

Meet each day with arms open wide, embrace the day, embrace the time, embrace the sky. Not just a quick hug, a nod of acknowledgement. An embrace. Be present. Fully present. Embrace what is.

And you, my friend, the next time we are together, I will not wait to be asked. I will embrace you. Namaste. The divine in me sees the divine in you. Let us embrace one other and our time together, however fleeting it might be.

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