Just like everyone else this time of year, I've started to reflect on how far I've come this year and where I want to go next year. I never really make resolutions, because it seems like they never really last past Jan. 15th anyway. But I got an interesting e-mail the other day from one of my vegan newsletters, and it's stuck with me. Basically the jist of it is this:
If you had to pick just one word to focus your life for an entire year, what word would you choose?
One word to summarize and reflect on for a whole year. There's thousands of words in the English language, and many of them are good ones to focus on. But eventually I narrowed it down from the e-mail's list of 65 words to three related words to focus my life on for an entire year:
Health is not just losing all this extra weight, but focus even more on healthy eating. Pay attention to serving sizes, make a real effort to eat a vegan diet for the majority of the time, exercise so I don't feel my heart pounding after climbing stairs or so I can lift equipment, drink at least 2 liters of water a day, use lotion on my hands, feet, and face, make a bigger effort to stop using chemicals on my body and in my house. These aren't all resolutions, but just things that I want to give a bigger focus on in my life and even if by next year I'm just a little bit healthier, it's better than nothing.
Self-Love is a big one that I need to focus on. I'm sure most of you know, I don't have a very good self image. Although part of me tells me that how I feel isn't true, a large part of me assures me that I am fat, ugly, stupid, lazy, worthless, selfish. And for as long as I can remember, I've always felt this way about myself. I want to focus on loving myself the way I am now, with the extra weight, hang nails, zits, dry skin, not working a "real" job, putting my schooling as a priority over supporting myself and I want to focus on and find more self-love as I lose weight and become healthier. Stop letting my baggage get in the way of what I want to do; surf, kayak, hike, swim in a bathing suit, mountain bike, rock climb because I'm too fat or not in shape enough to do these things.
Release closely follows Self-Love. I want to focus on releasing all the baggage that I've been carrying around for years, all the stuff that's made me resent people, allowed little things to hurt me because they just pile on top of other little things, made me sabotage relationships and friendships and opportunities because they can't really be what they seem to be. I also want to focus on releasing all the habits and emotional baggage that has contributed to my health being the way it is. And release all this weight :)
So I cheated a little by picking more than one word (although the e-mail said that it was OK to pick up to three if you just really couldn't narrow it down), but I think that they're all closely related and feed back into one another. By working on one, I should begin to work on the others, etc. And it's better than a resolution since I'm not setting myself up for failure by saying I have to lose X amount of weight, or work out so many times a week or whatever.
Looking back at that post, I can help but be a little awed that the focus words I chose truly were the main themes of my year. I was preliminarily diagnosed with metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes), which set me on a course to figure out if I actually have it or not (it's still up in the air), become fully vegan, and I ended up losing about 25 pounds so far this year (mostly during my Alaska road trip, in which our stove broke and we were forced to live off trail mix, rice cakes, and peanut butter for several days until we could get it fixed). I can't say when it happened exactly, but I have found a great deal of peace with myself over this year. I still have my bad days when I beat myself up about things that aren't true or possible (trying to be superwoman/perfect), but overall I have become very happy with myself and my decisions that I've made in my life. I've also found that things don't bother me as much anymore. I can let things go more easily, and while things that are said may still hurt, and I might still be upset by them, I get over them faster and easier.
It's amazing how at peace I feel. Sure, I get incredibly stressed out by classes, midterms, projects, and now finals, but I've been getting better and better at accepting the stress (maybe crying for while), and then moving on and using that energy and stress to get things done. I've learned to accept that everything happens for a reason, and to release my desire to control everything in my life.
I will be doing this again for the new year. I haven't decided what my new word(s) will be; I will get done with finals and then spend time meditating on this to figure out where I need the most work, or to find a word that feels right at this time. I think this is much better than a new years resolution, and maybe I will get one of Beautythatmoves' mantra quilts to display my word over the year. I can't remember (or find) the e-mail where this idea came from, but if anyone does, please let me know and I will link to the original authors. If you would like to participate, here is the list of words to get you started: