One week into 2018 and I am still thinking about the New Year and what I may accomplish in it and through it. And the idea of transformation and hope has persisted and continues to appear before my eyes in the things I’m reading and in the thoughts I’m thinking.
The hardest part is what to leave behind, … It’s time to let go!
– A. A. Milne (Winnie-The-Pooh)
To be transformed is to be made new, to be changed, to experience a metamorphosis; to become a new creation. Is this not the wonder and delight of crossing over into the New Year? This hope that the old things and old ways of doing things which don’t work will pass away, and the life and light of newness will attend us in the unfolding days of the new year.
When I let go of what I am,
I become what I might be.
– Lao Tzu
Why does the thought of a personal transformation so tickle my senses? Does it tickle you? Perhaps it tickles, perhaps it pings our collective intrigue because this is what we need…to be renewed, refreshed, revitalized!
Let’s touch everything we see
and change it to hope
Our hearts let’s change to flesh
No more stones of apathy for us!
Let’s look at everything that could be
believing it will be
if we dare
to walk on water
scared and hopeful.
Come, walk on the water with me!
Let’s wrap our fears in hope.
Across these waters we must go our lamps of courage high
Scared and hopeful we will go.
– Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B.
What needs transforming in my life? What needs changing? What needs to die so I may embrace a new way of being? Perhaps I need to learn a new way of relating? A new way of perceiving? A new way of communicating? A new way of loving?
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs;
ask yourself what makes you come alive.
And then go and do that.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
– Howard Thurman
It’s time isn’t it? Time to walk into the New Year with every expectation that I will be changed because I am ready. I am ready to be emptied so I may be filled again, maybe even filled to overflowing with every good and needful thing. How about you? Will you go with me…will you walk out with me onto the waters of hope in 2018?
Today is the first day of 2018; it is New Year’s day, and it seems everyone is eager to ask or know, “What is your New Year’s resolution?” I have resigned myself (happily) to the fact that I will begin another New Year without a traditional ‘resolution’ in place. Perhaps I make too much ado about nothing, but my resolution resistance results from having carelessly made too many New Year’s resolutions in years past. I just feel over-aged (sensible, experienced) to be conned into making an order for change simply because the calendar page has flipped.
I acknowledge this practice is traditional and often considered a fashionable thing to do…making resolutions. And as such it does provide fodder for water cooler exchanges during the first weeks of the new year with those of whom we are acquainted. But in reality, the ‘new’ wears off most resolutions before month’s end. Surely there is a more effective mechanism for making long-standing change in one’s life which surpasses this conventional, seasonal system.
So what is our fascination with all things NEW? Why do new things beckon such hope in our psyche, as though all things are possible for us, personally and collectively…simply because we enter a New Year? Why do we give so much prestige to the beginning of things? A new relationship; a new material acquisition; a new skill learned; a new experience acquired. A new life born. A new season begun. Why is ‘new’ so appealing?
New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings. Lao Tzu
Lest we forget that ‘new’ has a very limited shelf-life, perhaps we may better understand our attraction to ‘new things’ if we realize that our human nature is strongly wired to crave the rush of change and novel experiences. It is no wonder then, that we enjoy celebrating a New Year, and all new things, because in doing so we acknowledge and embrace NEW as a symbol of HOPE. And hope always expects that change will work in our behalf.
There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning. Louis L’Amour
We see this cycle in the seasons of nature. One season gives way (dies) to usher in the new of the next season. And again, the dark of night transforms the new of day with the rising of the morning sun. Instinctively we know that ‘new’ equates to vitality and life force. The newborn infant screams this message loudly for all to hear: I am alive! I am viable! I am vital! I am ready to grow and to transform! And yet just minutes before the newborn’s birth, she was forcefully expelled from the womb of her first existence.
Now that I have finished this New Year’s conversation with you all, I feel a certain excitement creeping into my mind, my emotions and my thinking. I feel the desire to embrace this New Year, with all it’s propensity for change and uncertainty, with the lusty cry of a newborn babe! I have arrived! I am fully awakened to this new day in this new year! I am fully alive and equal to the coming challenges…fully prepared to experience this new season with eyes wide open…fully resolved to embrace hope through the months of this coming year…Happy New Year 2018! And Happy New Year to all who read this little blog post!
One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. Henry Miller
Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.
Jennifer Lee, filmmaker
What sets my soul on fire? Wow…what a question to wake up to this morning! I found the above quote in my inbox compliments of the Runner’s World daily newsletter. Honestly, I am surprised that this quote received such a reaction from my 5am, pre-caffeinated mind. Why does a soul on fire intrigue me so? Does that intrigue you?
So intrigued, I continue to wonder…what does a life (soul) set on fire look and feel like? Have I ever experienced such a thing in my life? Have I ever pursued such a condition for myself? Does a soul on fire burn slow and steady or rage flaming? Surely a fire must be continuously stoked? How does one keep or find the combustible material(s) for said soul fire? Do I fearlessly pursue anything? So many questions…not so many answers; but it is early in the morning!
Okay, so with a little more caffeine in my system, I begin to see that perhaps I do have a few things I pursue with some amount of energy and frequency in my life. When I consider how I gravitate towards several activities repeatedly, on purpose, for personal satisfaction or enjoyment, and that I am not easily discouraged or distracted from engaging in said activities on a daily basis (running, writing, reading, motivating others to become more active, etc.), then I realize that I may indeed be living as one who has a fire kindled at her center…maybe not a raging conflagration, but a fire burning is a flame by definition regardless of its burning intensity.
Human beings are so made that whenever anything fires the soul, impossibilities vanish. A fire in the heart lifts everything in your life. That’s why passionate leaders are so effective. A leader with great passion and few skills always outperforms a leader with great skills and no passion.
John C Maxwell
Fully awake now, I feel the warmth from center ooze into the extremities of my mind and body. I am beginning to understand my initial attraction and resistance to this morning’s quote in my inbox.
The light switch just flipped on when I realized that I resisted the idea of passionate pursuit because it just sounds like so much hard work and effort. A fearless pursuit of anything requires dedication, determination, drive and singularity of purpose. Considered from this perspective, it sounds like another job…ugh…who needs more work? Not I!
BUT WAIT, when I go about my day engaged in those things which I’m passionate about, these things are not like work to me. HELLO! My PASSIONS = My FUN and fun is not hard! Fun is easy! I love to do my fun things! Isn’t that true for all of you too? Oh my, but I am finally, fully alert. Now I see why this morning’s quote caught my attention. Now I understand how and why I must fearlessly pursue those things which kindle my soul to fire.
I’ll be the first to admit…it’s easier to talk or think about my priorities rather than actually pursuing my priorities in the order of their value and supremacy. What makes prioritizing so problematic is that my life is lived in many venues, and all of these venues have built-in priorities from which I must choose (decide) their order of primacy.
We have relationships and roles to fulfill (work, family, social, community, etc.); we have stuff which obligates our time or material resources (houses, cars, hobbies, etc); we have bodies which need to be nourished (mental, physical, emotional, social, etc). Our to-do lists are endless. So how do we determine what gets priority? How do we order and rank our most precious resource…time…in any given day?
You always have time for the things you put (do) first. ~Anonymous
Instant messaging, fast food and next day shipping has become standard operating procedure for those of us living and working in industrialized economies. Our inboxes, virtual or otherwise, are overflowing and all the messages are marked ‘urgent’ or ‘important’. We say we value our relationships, our physical health, our freedom, our faith…but how much of what we do everyday actually supports, nourishes or advances our values; our priority(s)? How do we focus our attention when the minutes of the day are full of diversion and distraction?
Starve Your Distractions ~ Feed Your Focus…That Which You Seek, Finds You!
Our attention and focus is pulled out of whack and into disorder by every thing we allow to come into our awareness. If we are honest with ourselves and truly desire to accomplish those things we say we value, then we must decide (choose), again and again to do only those things which we have identified as ‘priority’. Two questions help us rank our values: #1. What do I truly desire? #2. What is standing in my way? If you’re not sure of the answer to question number one, then consider what you spend your time thinking about. What you spend time thinking about is a strong indication of where the desires of your heart lay.
Focus like a laser, not a flashlight…
Do you get the sense that accomplishing something of import for yourself will require your relentless determination and focus? If this sounds like hard work, that’s because it is hard work! Prioritizing your life, sharpening your focus, ignoring those things which would divert and distract your attention, all these things and more will be required from you when you set out to craft your most meaningful life.
But do not despair of this worthwhile work of yours. Your desire, determination and dedication will provide you strength and stamina to pursue the object of your focus. It’s no harder than doing the ‘number one’ item on your priority list FIRST. Do not move on to item number two or item number three if doing so will remove the urgency and primacy of your focus.
Who trains the body for days, weeks, and months, for the privilege of toeing a start line? A finisher, that’s who! Whether or not you’ve ever paid the entry fee to run a foot-race, don’t assume you are not competing in a race. Beacause if you are reading these words right now, then you are indeed a competitor, in the Game of Life!
Understand that the what must come before the how. First choose what you would do. The how usually falls into place of itself. Julia Cameron
Does that statement fill you with happy expectation or dread? How will you fill your waking hours? What brings meaning to your minutes? Don’t you know that you are a living, breathing, being full of unlimited potential and possibility?
You have everything you need to create your very best life, today! You are the Creator of Your Living-Life! With the dawning of every new day you are given the Gift of Beginning! Breathing is proof of your championship potential. Breathing is proof you hold the gift, the gift of your beginning…again.
A champion, by definition, is one who competes so as to win a prize or best her competition. Crossing a finish line is the goal of every champion. Even though every striving entrant knows that only one participant will cross the finish line first, this fact does not minimize the drive of a champion’s will to cross that line.
The need to win, now, is the need to win approval from others. As an antidote, we must learn to approve of ourselves. Showing up for the work is the win that matters. Julia Cameron
To train is to join the game. To join the game is the delight of living! A champion’s heart beats to the cadence of willful, intented steps towards her goal. A champion thinks and believes in her training because every day she trains is proof to herself that she is besting herself. The mindset of a champion-at-heart is determined to overcome her can’t-do’s with her can-do’s.
The stringent requirement of a sustained creative life is the humility to start again, to begin anew. Julia Cameron
The heart of an authentic competitor-champion steels her will, hones her drive, attends her focus and casts off distractions to squash the lure of indifference. A true competitior evolves as champion with every choice she makes to actively train her body and mind with each new day. Championship is born in the process of one’s training. You are a Champion when you take the risk to begin your training, again and again.
Most of the time, given the opportunity, I prefer not to choose. My general preference, when the time to choose arises, is to let my spouse or friend or client or employee make the choice for me: where to dine; what to work on; where/when to exercise; which movie to watch or music to listen to.
This is not a comfortable or flattering thing to admit about myself, especially since I am the type of person who likes to ‘work out’ my body. How strange then to realize that I am quite lazy when it comes to choosing in the realm of the everyday and mundane. How hard is it really, to make a choice? Why would I rather deflect an opportunity to make my own choice onto others? And yet, to not choose is making a choice too, isn’t it?
“The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either.” “Life has a peculiar feel when you look back on it that it doesn’t have when your actually living it.” Donald Miller
Perhaps the problem with choosing comes from the fact that there is so much from which to choose. If choice making was always about this or that; black or white; yes or no; stay or go, perhaps choosing would be easier. On one hand I wish that making a choice was a one-and-done deal, like when I say I choose to lose weight, gain strength or improve my health status, then BAM, my choice is made and I’m done. Wouldn’t that be grand? No more decisions to make. But that system wouldn’t work too well for me if I made just ONE unwise choice. How could I undo a poor choice if I only had a one-and-done choice making system?
Fortunately, for all of us, life is full of choice making opportunities, except when our perception tells us otherwise. If we feel stuck, plumb out of choices, then it’s time to remind ourselves this one thing: as long as we are breathing, we may choose; and we may choose as many times as is needed and we may choose differently every time.
Even though I am a lazy choice maker, I am grateful this life I live is not a one-and-done game of chance. No, this life is more like playing the slot machines with the statistical advantage stacked in my favor, because I am privileged to choose; and my choice to choose means I may choose over and over and over again…or not.
In this life, it’s a happy, powerful sentiment to know we have the authority to re-write our life’s story line if we find our story less than meaningful. If by our choices we choose to do the same things enough times, eventually the statistics play out in our favor and our choices become our habits (for better or worse); then our habits create our life (for better or worse). So here’s to the wonderful, wacky world of choice making, and here’s my note to self: You CHOOSE…like your life depends on it!