Setting a course for 2011

My delight at the dawn of a new year will come as no surprise. The sense of feeling new and fresh and starting over is intense and important to me this year. It’s fitting that 2011 begins with a renewed sense of optimism such that I haven’t known for a very long time. I’ll take it as a sign of  things to come. I choose for it to be  sign of good things to come

To say that I would prefer to forget 2010 is an understatement. But I will not. Neither will I dwell on the darkness that defined most of the last 12 months, and to be honest even longer.

Instead I choose to honour it and look forward to the possibilities that were unearthed through my struggles.  Today I lay down a map for the year to come, a map that I hope to fill with new directions and undiscovered spaces. There is no destination, only a journey to uncover the richness of  these new territories with patience and compassion.

So what will the new year bring? I went back and read the post I wrote one year ago today and realized that while so much seems to have changed, really so little actually has. In 2010 I was inspired by the idea of discovering revelations for a new year instead of resolutions as catalysts for the rewriting of old and tired scripts and roles. I set a course to examine my life from the inside out, to become the woman I wanted to be. In many ways, that is exactly what I did.

I shared it all here, the ups, the downs, the turmoil, the confessions. I made grand declarations, and was humbled by the futility of it all. Most importantly I learned that sometimes when you are trying to do it all, you are really doing nothing. I finished the circle by coming back to the beginning. The very same place I began, with so much left to discover. In the process I learned something so important. It was a gift, that in the living of it I was blind to recognize. I learned that instead of moving toward something, a life worth living is one focused on the here and now. To be myself. Be Christine.

I have Gretchen Rubin to thank for this particular revelation, the one I intend to guide me through the coming year. How fortuitous that only a few weeks ago I finished reading The Happiness Project. It was my book club’s December selection, and to be honest I was skeptical. The amusing thing is that this book was my selection (Indeed, I am kind of funny that way). Secretly I hoped she would offer some nugget of wisdom and unlock a key to my own happiness. Outwardly I was wholly doubtful. I never expected how much I would appreciate that she would decidely not provide the key. What she did though was offer me the inspiration I needed to uncover it myself.

Over and over, through the entirety of the book she returned to this idea to Be Gretchen, the first of her personal Twelve Commandments. She writes:

I have an idea of who I wish I were, and that obscures my understanding of who I actually am.

Lightbulb! So intense was the self-awareness that came from it, that I felt as though this vault opened and released an energy that had been stored for years, perhaps forever. My whole life. Most every decision I’ve made has been about achieving the self I wished I was, not accepting who I truly am. To the point that I was making resolutions to BECOME the woman I wanted to be. Not to love the woman I was.

Be Christine.

And so this awareness marks the arrival of the new year and what I plan to do here at Coffees & Commutes. My revelation for 2011 is to be myself, to embrace all that I am and use it for good. I will do that here, and throughout the breadth of my life.  It will influence the theme of my writing—my own kind of happiness project as it were. The most obvious place to begin.

Gretchen is a kindred spirit. Our sensibilities are intensely alike down to a shared affinity for “charts, deliverables, to-do lists, new vocabulary terms and compulsive note taking.” In fact, according to Gretchen:

Current research underscores the wisdom of this chart-keeping approach. People are more likely to make progress on goals that are broken into concrete measurable actions, with some structured accountability and positive reinforcement.

So that is what I’ll do. I’ll Be Christine and I’ll do it in the most natural way. By declaring it here, writing about it, focusing on it, and providing myself a point for evaluation. That’s how I work best. It’s the professional communicator come alive. Each month I plan to explore a new topic, fully immerse myself in a new area for growth and understanding. Each will be influenced by themes from books or blogs that I’ve read. I’ll continue to organize it under the title of Simply Living. Not every post will necessarily focus on the theme, but it will certainly frame the flow of my writing. January will be all about meditation.

Of course I’ll allow myself plenty of time to think and reflect, but I’ll do that equally through unleashing my own words and the exploration of words that I have already and will read that resonate with me. This collective wisdom will guide my writing and exploration. And this place will be my chart, it will keep me on track. It will provide the ink for my map. By getting it out there, however simple or complex it might be, the words will spark more words and will set a healthy course for this year.

Image via a Creative Commons license: ‘Our Direction

21 thoughts on “Setting a course for 2011

  1. Lindsey says:

    Bravo, and a huge hug through the ether. Wish I was closer and we could celebrate this new start together. From here, I’ll eagerly anticipate your writing and thoughts, as I always have. In all the ways that matter (in my opinion), I’m sitting right next to you.

  2. Ironic Mom says:

    I like how you said this: “I finished the circle by coming back to the beginning.”

    Sometimes I think that’s what moving forward is: reworking the same stuff, but moving slightly forward each time, inch by inch.

    Good luck with the journey, Christine. I look forward to reading about it (and to sharing more book titles!).

  3. Rebecca says:

    Can’t wait. I really enjoy reading what you have to say.

  4. Chantal says:

    Looking forward to following you this year and seeing how things progress. Hugs Christine, and Happy New Year!

  5. Wishing you – you – in the year to come. As for that circling back to the beginning, I find comfort in that sort of imagery, and like to think of it as a spiral, rather than a 2-dimensional journey. We are always progressing, even when we rediscover our starting points in new light.

    Wishing you and your family all good things, Christine.

  6. Amber says:

    I have wanted to read this book for some time. I clearly need to get my hands on a copy.

    Happy New Year! To all good things in 2011. 🙂

  7. Rudri says:

    Wishing you a journey of discovering your own personal truth. I’m looking forward to your writing about “simply living.” Cheers and good thoughts for you and yours in 2011.

  8. ShannonL says:

    Happy New Year, my friend. Looking forward to reading your words and thoughts and triumphs. Miss you! xo

  9. Lisa says:

    Thanks for writing this. My 2010 has been horrible – actually about the last two years have been bad. However, I’m looking for to 2011 with renewed hope and a new place to write about life.


  10. Yes, please be Christine. She’s amazing.

    Happy New Year, friend!

  11. Amber says:

    Being yourself, Christine, is so important. This is a very beautiful and reflective post, exactly how I always end the year myself. : )

  12. Stacia says:

    That book rocked my world last month, too. I’m still trying to figure out all that I want to incorporate into my life (and how!), but I know her words changed me. Or, as you say, gave me the inspiration to find the key, my key.

    Happy 2011, friend!

  13. Courtney says:

    I loved the book, I read it last year right at the end of the year and loved it! It really does open you up to thinking.

    I am very much like you and this year my goal (which I am finishing writing a post about, and you give me inspiration!) is to simplify my life. Everything is all about this and that and I need to just Be and not be a be consumer or the jones or the perfect this or that because that is not me.

    good luck and your journey cant wait to here about your journey!

  14. I am a big fan of Gretchen Rubin’s, and that particular commandment speaks most strongly to me, as well. We can’t even begin to implement all the good strategies that make our lives better–or at least, it won’t have a deep effect if we do–unless we are all being ourselves.

  15. […] clear my mind and fuel the rest of my week. It’s the primary reason I chose meditation as my first theme for 2011. In the short time since initiating my practice it’s become an important anchor that […]

  16. […] of my work here to share and be honest. Over the eight weeks, I’ll continue to explore my themes for 2011, this month being meditation. So things are busy, but in a good and exciting way. And it’s […]

  17. […] may remember when I wrote about my plans for 2011 that I talked about Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project where wrote extensively about […]

  18. […] so I decided to devote February to exploring my personal issues with food, and my struggles as a mother with two mouths to feed. […]

  19. […] month, I’m tackling food as part of my year-long project to explore new monthly topics that encourage growth and self-understanding. My relationship with food, and motherhood has always […]

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