New Year Reflections 2008
Normally, I write this on or before New Year’s Day. Good thing one of my goals for the coming year is to let go of the need to control the course and outcome of everything, to let some things unfold, to save energy for the most important details, and to live with intent. I spent New Year’s Day in Aberdeen with Gloria, Winston and Emelita. We walked through the Southshore Mall, went out to a surprisingly good Thai restaurant on the south side, and saw a movie. Walking through the SS Mall was weird, but in a good way, like walking back into your first grade classroom where the desks barely top your knees, recognizing how far you’ve come, how much you’ve come through. So, no big deal. It’s January 5th and I’m writing to express my hopes for the coming year.
As I think about what I’d like for my life in 2008, my mind hovers around the concept of samskaras. Samskaras are the mental and emotional patterns we move in. In my experience, most of these patterns are subconscious. As I move through days, I sometimes get glimpses of the truth, sometimes not so much a glimpse, but a hard punch in the gut. Honestly, when I’m socked in the gut, my first reaction is to flee to another thought, push it down. Why? Because it scares the hell out of me that I may not be in control, that my unconscious fears and desires are my copilot, my side-kick, the monkey on my back. I’d like to recognize the patterns I move in with detachment so that I can live with greater intention. Detachment is key. I can’t face the most frightening aspects of myself while driving or teaching ninth graders how to recognize and discuss symbolism. So, a goal I have for this year is to set aside time each day to just sit and breathe and observe the thoughts that pass, without reacting to them, with detachment. Meditation. I also have this experience of detachment when I practice yoga. In yoga, my attention is on alignment, on breath, there’s no room for thoughts—positive, negative, or neutral—that pull me out the practice. That’s how I am able to hold poses that seem amazing without toppling over or giving up. I’ve been doing this for years, but what I’d like to happen in 2008 is to live my life like I practice yoga, with attention and detachment, so that I can choose to move in the patterns that lead to positive benefits for myself and others. If in a week I eat a hunk of cheese, or skip a day when I said I’d write, or explode in anger, I need to return to this goal of detachment.
As for specific goals for the New Year, I have many.
I heard the term “anger junkie” today and something resonated with me. The woman who said it was naming her own problem and explained how she puts off actions and decisions until she gets angry enough to do something. This had created a pattern in which she loves the anger because it allows her to do, to act. She didn’t even give examples. She didn’t need to. I saw myself. I saw myself denying or holding back my feelings so as not to inconvenience, hurt or anger someone else. But, I can’t do that for long. Two time, three times, maybe—and then—BLECK–I”m on autopilot, acting through a pattern that I know is destructive, that I’ll have to apologize for later. So, what’s my goal? To be direct and upfront about my feelings whenever appropriate regardless of whatever my fears might be about the consequences. To verbalize those feelings in an appropriate way—in a way that expresses that they’re my feelings, not an assertion of judgement or truth.
For three weeks, I’ll eat only whole foods and no dairy, eggs, or gluten. Why? To cleanse. To see how it turns out, how it may change my eating for good. So far, so good on this.
I’ll refine my writing practice. Monday, Wednesday and Saturday will be my official writing evenings, also Friday mornings. Of course, summer is fair game. I’ll write every day. This year I’ll finish my short story collection, At The Pump, and If 3 is a Spiritual Number and send them out to publishers and keep sending them out to publishers. Again and again and again. Writing sessions will last at least two or three hours at a time.
I will work out before yoga class at the gym on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. I’ll run with the dog on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I’ll take the dog for a long walk on Monday and Wednesday afternoons and also some time on Sunday. On Saturday, I may practice yoga or meditate, but I’ll feel free to not exercise at all.
I will take a trip some time this year to see a friend I have not seen in a long time.
I’ll read at least one book for “pleasure” each month. Books I read for school or work don’t count.
I will spend time working on the positive, nurturing relationships in my life, not the reverse.
I will be a better parent. I will be intentional in my communication with Winston and communicate in ways I know to be good. In this, I’ll turn to the advice of the now classic text How to Talks So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Faber and Mazlish. I’ve read this book several times. I think the advice is good and important.
I will find a volunteer opportunity that Winston and I can participate in together over the summer.
I will continue to update and expand my blog and will complete my poetry Powerpoint project.
All of these things will lead to my goal for a happy and healthy New Year.