At the start of each yoga class, my teacher encourages us to set an intention for the practice we’re about to do. I’ve found this to be a helpful and clarifying exercise. Now, as we wind down the old and venture forth into the new, I’ve been thinking about what my intention is for the year ahead.
As I was kicking around the idea for this post, a friend asked me what the difference is between an intention and a resolution. In my mind, an intention is the purpose behind the things we do. It is a soul thing and has everything to do with how we want to feel and how we want to be in the world. A resolution is a more about what we want to do. It’s an action-oriented and accomplishment-driven item on the life list for any given year. Up until this year, I’ve been focused on resolutions. But I’m doing things differently this year.
For the past several years, my resolutions and goals have been very career-centered. My focus has been on work, building my business and establishing some kind of professional footprint. This has not necessarily been due to ambition as much as it has survival. I’ve done what I’ve had to do to take care of my family. Creative aspirations and expression have been important for sure, but they have definitely been influenced by the need to make a living. Interestingly enough, as I read back on old journal entries from the past few years, I realize that there are some boulders that I am perpetually rolling uphill and that many goals remain unrealized. It makes me wonder if doing visualizations, riffing on abundance and petitioning the universe are really meaningful. I honestly don’t know anymore.
So then what?
Lately, as I ready for another turn of the wheel, I wonder if I’ve had it all wrong these past few years. Although I have pursued it doggedly, I don’t think it’s really about career for me anymore. I think it’s about connection, presence and proximity. It’s about people.
My kids grew up in a heartbeat. Although I’ve been there every step of the way, this particular realization hit me hard this year. They’re both teenagers now and, at nineteen, one is technically an adult. The days of feet pajamas and little sticky fists clutching candy canes are a faint memory for me. Part of their job now is to pull away, push off and establish themselves as the glorious and beautiful individuals they are. Both of my boys are right on target in that respect. But as they move through this important process, they need less and less of me. My job as the mom is slowly winding down. Although this is the natural flow of things, nothing in the parenting books really prepared me for the loneliness of this shift. It is another one of life’s reminders that time screams past us or, as Gretchen Rubin so eloquently puts it, “The days are long but the years are short.” As such, I want to soak in as much of them as I can before my boys take flight completely.
Beyond motherhood, there are other relationships that I would like to focus on in the year ahead. My own mother is in her eighties. Although she lives a significant distance from me, I want to continue to reach out to her as much and as often as I can. Closer to home, there are relationships that I can nurture a little more. There are also new people in my life, whom I would like to get to know better. I hope I have the courage to do so. Connection, presence and proximity. The joy of what we create and who we are is in sharing with others. Without other people, what does any of it mean?
So I guess my intention for the New Year is to start with the heart. Of course, I will continue to do what I need to do for my family, but the year ahead will be less about security and achievement and more about love. This is an easy enough intention to set. But I know my mind and my fears and how both can muddy situations that should surely be crystal clear. When I need clarification, I will ask myself the following:
Is there an opportunity to be generous here?
Is there something I need to let go of?
So that’s it: a simple intention to start with the heart and go from there. I wish you all a Happy New Year! I hope that you have fun, that you know great love and that your precious heart is open, full of grace and blissfully at peace.
“Let’s find focus & find a deeper love. We need to love & be cool to each other.”
– Raja Gemini