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.
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‘