I try to think of my life as a journey, an adventure. At the beginning of each year, I like to pick a general direction for the coming year.
Last year, I struggled to find my word for the year. I knew what it felt like, but I couldn’t think of the word to describe it, although it finally dawned on me in April – gumption. I wanted to have gumption this year.
And I think I did. I certainly did things I never thought I could have done a year ago – starting in a gallery, applying to study in France, applying for grants, helping people with their marketing. These were all things that I dreamed of doing, longed to do, but didn’t have the guts for.
Gumption was a good word. But as I ponder the next 12 months, I’ve realized that picking just one word isn’t going to work for me. It won’t encompass the ways in which I want to grow.
For me, depending on what area of my life it is, I’ve got different themes and things I want to focus on. Some of the words I’ve picked are playfulness, nurturing, connection, and mastery.
But there are a few words that keep popping up as overarching themes for the year. It’s an interesting year for me, time line-wise. As I mentioned the other day, in January, it’ll have been 10 years since the day I got sick. This feels significant somehow – like I’m moving into something new. And as I do that there some things that need to be left behind.
I am tired of the struggle.
In a way, I’m quite emotionally exhausted. It’s been a long ten years. There hasn’t been much of a let-up. I feel like all I’ve done for 10 years is fight – fight my doctors, my schools, my family, my body, myself. I’ve spent a lot of the last 10 years being treated like a victim. I felt like a victim. I suppose, in a typical sense, I was.
I felt powerless, helpless. So I fought harder. I fought for my right to be happy, to follow my dreams, to be considered a competent, capable individual, not the Sick Girl. I fought to leave that behind. I fought to be seen for who I really am – a young woman, an artist, a human being. Not just a thing with a disease that we need to fix.
And I got all those things. Most people are shocked to find out I have an illness. People see me for my art, my words, my character first, and that other stuff wayyyyy on down the line. I’m in the enviable position of doing what I love every day. I’m not rich but I’m pretty content.
Unfortunately, I’m still stuck in fight mode. And victim mode. Things have changed but only quite recently. I worked hard to get here. But the strategies that got me here aren’t going to help me move forward.
It’s time for my inner fighter to have a vacation.
She got me through so much. She is my bloody-minded determination, she is my fire, she is my strength. She got me through so many days. I love her and I appreciate her. And I know that if I every need to fight another battle, she’ll be there, sword swinging.
But the crisis is over. The time for fighting is over. We don’t need to live in deprivation mode anymore, just to get us from one day to the next.
And I don’t need to be a victim anymore either. I think I’m the only person in my life who still sees me as one. I can let it go now.
All of this brings me to my words for 2011
My first word – empowerment. I want to remember that I am powerful. I have the power to create the life that I want. I am not helpless. I am not a victim. I am powerful. And that feels good to say.
My second word (or words) – ease & flow. No more struggle. No more fighting. I want to work on opening up to receive. Again and again, as I was writing my vision for different parts of my life, ease and flow came up. These are qualities that I really want to bring into my life next year.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of woman I want to be as well. I’ve been working with 2 words lately – strength and grace. When I’m feeling frazzled, or upset, or anxious, I ask myself, “If I was a woman who embodied strength and grace, how would I respond to this situation?”
It helps me make better decisions, and bypass the part of my brain that just wants to run around waving its arms in the air, shouting unintelligible nonsense.
It’s time for a new era.
Everything I’ve got planned for this year is about the same thing – leaving the struggle, the fighting, the helplessness behind. It’s really about coming into my own and living life on my own terms. It’s what I’ve spent 10 years fighting for.
I won the war. Now I need to relax and start enjoying it.