My journey of focusing on a Word of the Year looks a little like this…
2015. Girl has new baby and wants encouragement to get up and get going. So she chooses WAKE UP.
2016. This leads her to feel inspired by new endeavor in writing. She needs to focus her attention and continue to learn so the word becomes LIGHT.
2017. New year approaching felt uncertain and risky to focus too much on any one goal. Turning focus to writing, literally and figuratively as new chapters of life play out, the guiding word takes shape as STORY.
2018. With the awareness of accepting new chapters in life for what they are, girl then looks ahead to another year of big changes, this time with a new baby in the story. Continued grace and patience will be required more than ever before. It is time to just be ENOUGH.
And so here we are today.
As you follow the story, you can see the patterns of one word pointing the way to the next. My reflection process often guides me toward the next word. It is in learning from a past year that I can see more clearly what I want more or less of in the next year.
While 2018 was all about grace and acceptance and a “come what may” outlook, I entered into this new year feeling the need to push myself a bit more.
On goods days, when I felt content in being ENOUGH, I noticed that I also had ENOUGH, time, energy, patience to take a bigger step whether in my writing or simply checking off something on my ever growing to do list.
This felt good and led me to want more of this feeling of forward progress.
I don’t want to be focused on results or outcomes. I still need to be aware of grace and patience at this stage of life.
But as I pay attention to my heart stirrings, as I notice what brings me joy at the end of the day, I know I am made for more.
Here is what I know about myself. While I love to dream and plan, the execution falls short. I allow a lot of space for acceptance and stillness. I take comfort in the grace I give to myself. I forgive myself quickly and create excuses for inactivity. Grace is good. Complacency may be a bit stale though.
And, if I am being honest here, and why ever wouldn’t I be, I sense fear. Fear in the hard parts of the during and the unknown parts of the potential ending.
So how do I find the comfortable place between the fear of setting out of reach expectations and settling into apathetic behavior.
Perhaps there is a simple answer.
When the only requirement for me is to take step one, then how can I fail?
Just sit down and write the first word.
Just open up that scary junk drawer and get rid of one item.
Just put on your running shoes and step out the door.
Just pick up the phone and take the next available appointment.
Don’t fret over the during. Don’t fear the finish.
The during parts may be hard. And the end unknown. But the beginning should be led without fear, without expectation, without judgement. Because to BEGIN is to simply take the next right step.
How do I put this into practice?
The definition pointed me towards a few guiding posts.
Start; perform or undergo the first part of.
I am not new to the concept of small goals, simple attainable steps to keep me moving forwards. But I made the mistake of thinking of each and every step in the process instead of just step one. For example, “Go to the Dentist” has been at the top of so many of my goals from year to year but never got done. I was too overwhelmed by the scheduling process, and maybe the results of the long overdue appointment. But this year that needed to change. So instead of focusing on every step that led to the appointment, I did step one, which, for me, the obliger, was to tell friends I was doing this. Accountability is motivating for me. But by beginning there, I felt confident to move in to step two, find insurance, and so and so on.
And just like that, I have a dentist appointment on my calendar.
I just began. I started with the first part of the process. Just that step. But each step motivated me to the next. And before I knew it, I had accomplished what I had not yet been able to do.
This may seem simple to you but for me it felt remarkable. Sometimes it is the simple lessons that make the biggest impact on our lives.
And finally, there is another iteration of this word I would like to explore. That is as a BEGINNER.
A person just starting to learn a skill or take part in an activity.
When coming from a place of fear, being a beginner comes with frustration, anxiety, and vulnerability. It is not easy to be a beginner. It requires both effort and humility.
And yet the very definition implies growth. If you are a beginner you are actively learning. When you lean into being a beginner, you allow space for moving forward, for coming into a new being. And you also allow for much grace in the process.
This is exciting.
This is positive.
This is progress.
I want to lean into this process of being a beginner by being proud of taking a new step in my life. Settling into being a beginner is not about being complacent. It is about being okay with all of the steps it might take to keep moving forward.
This just might be the balance I am looking for between expectation and immobility. It is what takes me from accepting I am ENOUGH to becoming a BEGINNER.
Simply to just BEGIN.
May there be many a beginning to my 2019 with very little ends.