This blog post was inspired by my cousin-in-law Pam’s recent post on her business Facebook page. She said, “I love that pause right before my needle enters a fresh and blank fabric. At that moment, the possibilities are endless. This cross stitch project could be the best yet!!!” I commented that I recognized that feeling as the same one I get at the beginning of a warm-weather, early-morning bike ride. Pam is a cyclist, too, so she understood what I meant. Her post got me thinking about other times I feel that way. The start of a new year is one of them. As we move closer to 2022, I feel a touch of that blank-slate-anything-is-possible excitement, but it’s different this year. This blank slate feels tinged with 2021 soot that won’t wash off so easily—like we picked it up at Walls, the fire-sale store where I remember quizzically thumbing through lightly-damaged, water-stained or sooty merchandise while growing up in Oklahoma City.
I’m neither a cross stitcher nor an artist of any other kind, but I decided on my bike yesterday that although 2022 will begin colored by the stains of 2021, I can choose what I do with that blemished blank slate. I can choose to cover it with new “art” in the form of growth and wisdom, not in an attempt to pretend the damage hasn’t been done or that more isn’t possible, but in determination to become someone better and stronger through the struggles. Ultimately, there are many unknowns because I can’t control anyone else’s choices or behavior, but I can decide to learn and grow and evolve, regardless of what happens. We all have that choice, although it can be incredibly hard to recognize in the moments when life keeps throwing obstacles and unwelcome surprises at us in a seemingly endless barrage.
I usually set New Year’s goals—things I want to accomplish and changes I want to make—and I am pretty good at following through on them. I was taking consistent action on my 2021 goals, but I made a conscious decision to release them in April because it became clear that I had to handle other priorities. I had reached a crisis point, and it was necessary to relieve some of the pressure on myself. I had to give up something, and my in-progress book and business were what I could give up. That’s why this blog has become so infrequent. I’m not setting goals for 2022 because life and the future still feel very uncertain, and I am not in control of how they unfold. For the foreseeable future, my attention and energy are going to have to be spent in a way that will leave little space for my personal goals. But I commit to growing in resilience, self-reliance and self-efficacy in 2022. I will trust that I am capable of handling what I need to handle and of making good decisions to steer my family in the right direction. I’m good at finding resources and creating plans. Those are things I have done professionally as a case manager and as an advisor. It’s what I do when I plan bike routes. It is what I do when I create structure and ritual to bring order to my daily life. I will focus on my commitment to growth in 2022. And I choose to believe that someday I will find my way back to the setting more personal goals around things I want to accomplish and create and ways I want to, and am called to, contribute to the greater good for our world. I will do this from a wiser, clearer place because of the growth that I will achieve in this less-obviously-productive time. Even though aspects of life feel indefinitely paused and contingent upon choices that are out of my control, I will take care of my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health as well as I can because I know doing so is crucial to my ability to show up and face life’s challenges every day. Focusing on growing in resilience, self-reliance and self-efficacy will prevent stagnation in this pause. On my bike yesterday, I repeated this affirmation: “I am resilient, self-reliant and capable.” When I say it to myself on the bike, I believe it. By being consistent with my meditation, yoga and journaling practices, I am better able to continually reconnect with the strength and power I feel on the bike and apply it to the rest of life.
There are many ways to approach a new year. It is important to honestly assess our present circumstances—those we can change and those we can’t—as we prepare to hang up our new calendars, so that we can make realistic commitments to ourselves and to those to whom we have responsibilities in order to learn what we need to learn and grow as we need to grow in the next 365 days.
Although I am not sure where I am ultimately going with this blog or with many other things in my life, I will continue to write when I am inspired and when I can make it fit because writing nourishes my soul and helps me make sense of things I need to understand. My only goal for my writing at this moment is to create something that adds even a little value, whether to those who read what I write or simply to the vibrational energy in the universe. I’ll be publishing my annual “best books” post in the next few days, because reading is also good for the soul. I wish us all a safe, happy, healthy, peaceful 2022.