Monday, January 10, 2011

Joie de Vivre…


Like many, 2011 was ushered in with resolutions – but in many ways, I knew the start to this New Year would be different.

For starters, I had given thought to what I was resolving to do. This time around, it would not be resolutions to lose weight or to maintain an ideal I felt I was somehow failing to live up to in my day to day life. I've tried all that before, with limited to no success and I was tired of tarnishing a bright and shiny new year with the thought that its success hinged on my ability to be thinner or in having more people believe I somehow "have it all together." This is not to say that these goals were necessarily off base – it's just I realized that they required a shift in perspective.

What I finally saw was that the intent and thus the phrasing of these resolutions was all wrong (at least for me). The problem was the fact that the resolutions were born out of negative thoughts – out of incredible dissatisfaction, and if I'm being honest, incredible insecurity. No wonder I wasn't achieving my goals! My goals, instead of lifting me up and moving me forward, seemed to reinforce the terrible self image that I was trying to shed, leaving me in this stagnant quagmire of insecurity! With that understanding, I realized that I needed to really evaluate why I was making these goals – what was I hoping to achieve? It seems that for resolutions to be successful they need to come from a place of positive origination.
ie. Last year I resolved that "I needed to lose weight and be thinner" which is a resolution that has both:

  •  no tangible attainment, as thinner is objective and let's be honest, is a slippery slope when you start comparing and
  • originates from a place of personal insecurity and the lie that I continue to tell myself, that "if I could just lose the weight I would feel better both about myself and my life." 
In contrast, this year I have resolved to "Run a 5k" which:
  • is a clearly defined goal with a tangible and objective measure of success and,
  • will, as a side benefit, require me to incorporate a healthy amount of exercise into my daily life (BONUS!)
    C.S. Lewis once wrote: "[I]f you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man." (Mere Christianity) In reading this passage, it became incredibly clear to me what I believe I had been guilty of in my own life; of continuing on, hoping that things would get better instead of stopping and re-evaluating my course to make sure it was still the course I wanted to pursue.
    I won't go into specifics, but 2010 was a really hard, emotional and spiritual year for me. Being married is amazing, please don't misunderstand, but for me it's also brought along a lot of challenges related to personal identity, personal power and self worth. That being said, I looked back on 2010 and saw that the year had progressed much like a snowball – a million small decisions and commitments that amounted to me finding myself in December, miserable and incredibly burned out. I love my life, but I found the problem was that I wasn't savoring my life. There was no self regulation, no moderation – it was all 'go Go GO!' I finally realized that all those involvements and commitments, though each inherently good, in their sheer volume seemed to become distractions from really pursuing those things that fed me personally, and left absolutely no time for personal reflection. And let's be honest. I am not the victim here. I did it to myself and quite frankly I think the reason I did it was because keeping busy, for me, was better than the alternative – challenging myself personally – confronting my fear of the blank page, and asking myself what it is that I truly want and need. 
    So, armed with that knowledge, and fully acknowledging my propensity for busying myself with menial tasks I decided to make a resolution to enjoy (savor) my life. I know this sounds simultaneously saccharine and cliché but for me it came as a revelation; a new litmus test against which I could measure those decisions and commitments that would begin to come my way at the start of the New Year. I felt that this was the best way in which I could reclaim those things that made me 'me' that I had let fall by the wayside in my mad dash to be the most over-committed person in history. And I was very particular about the wording as I found that enjoyment, though it does mean 'to find or experience pleasure' also includes references to satisfaction and 'to undergo an improvement', which I feel acknowledges that those things we work for and work through can also be of great enjoyment. The first thing I did with this new resolution was to wipe my slate clean. I really looked at those things I had committed to weekly and realized there were only a few I desired to keep. I've begun to feel liberated by my free time which is great and finally I have found relaxation on the weekends. And I know that I've made a good decision because last night I had this amazing dream: I was having dinner with an old volleyball friend and her new husband (whom I've never actually met) and she suggested that we go for a walk after dinner. As we went walking though a forested area, she asked me if I had played volleyball recently and I said that I hadn't, and she turned around to look at me and said "That's understandable. With everything you went through I don't blame you for not playing anymore." And then she and I continued on our walk. Even now, recounting this dream, I can't help but well up with tears of joy. Most dreams I have prey on my insecurities and fears and I wake up traumatized or feeling isolated. I've had so many dreams where I'm back playing volleyball and one of my various coaches is pushing me on the court, while I, knowingly ill-equipped, don't put up a fight, but give in to their seemingly irrational requests. But in this dream, my friend (who I'm guessing is a manifestation of myself) finally acknowledged the hardship I'd been through and gave me grace in this area of my life. There was no pushing, there was no insistence. We weren't on court with the pressure on, we were in nature, and we talked face to face. And once we were resolved in our conversation, we moved forward. For the first time, in as long as I can remember, I felt at peace waking up from a dream.