At a New Year’s Day party, not surprisingly, I got into a conversation about New Year intentions, goals and dreams. The woman I was talking to is someone who very much lives her ideals: she works in a field she is passionate about, and has started a movement in her community, the Red Tent for women, that has far-reaching impact. I told her about the dilemma I faced as I started working through Leonie Dawson’s ‘Create your Amazing Year Life & Biz Edition Workbook‘ in the last few days of 2013, and came to the inevitable bit where you have to list goals and then break them down into ‘to-do lists’. I actually groaned when I read that phrase, ‘to-do lists’. I love Leonie’s work – as a bestselling author and mom enterpreneur she is a big inspiration to me. But I was a little disappointed to come up against that word again. Don’t I have enough to-do lists? Enough demands on myself, trying to juggle all my many projects and of course the biggest project of all, raising a young boy mostly my single-parent household? Isn’t there another way?
How was I going to do these to-do lists without turning them into another perfectionist sledgehammer to beat myself with? The Red Tent lady said, ‘It’s a very masculine way of doing things. That’s how the world works, but it’s not the feminine way. I just have an intention this year: to continue to let the feminine flower in the world’. I love the idea of simply having a broad intention, and letting my work branch out from that. I wanted to agree, and wholeheartedly ditch to-do lists. I am all for honouring the feminine and being receptive; going with the flow and being flexible and spontaneous. But I guess a big part of me suspects I wouldn’t get much done that way. I would probably do a bit of this, a bit of that, and then a bit of something else, and none of it would add up to very much. After all, I am a Piscean.
I’m a messy bundle of contradictions, like most of us. Many people think I am disciplined and hard-working because, for example, I finished a postgraduate degree, walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain, moved countries and got a Diploma when my son was young. But I’ve also had a guitar sitting in my room for years waiting for me to play it – I’ve finally got as far as tuning it – and numerous unfinished short stories, a wad of unpublished poems, and two started-but-not-completed novels. I find it easy to finish tasks for which I am accountable to other people, or which involve participation in a group – but when it comes to my own projects, I need help with motivation to finish. I employ the ‘masculine’ part of me to help me unite some of my projects into coherent over-arching goals, and then find the ways I can cross from where I am, to there. The masculine part of me helps me to see what needs doing, with clarity rather than a vague ‘it’ll happen’, and follow through with determination and discipline. So, breaking things down into steps and diarising these actions helps me. Much as I might groan.
For me, the ‘feminine’ part is allowing myself to be in the process of that, and finding en-joyment in that, rather than anxiously ticking things off a list and focusing on the end result only. It’s my intention this year to find a balance between the two, and to allow myself to enjoy the gap between my dreams and reality rather than wishing it away.
My favourite part of the workbook so far has been acknowledging the dreams that came true in the last year. Ever eager to get onto the next thing, I hadn’t acknowledged this, and I appreciated Leonie’s reminder to fully celebrate and release the last year before moving on to manifesting the dreams of the next. I also loved the ‘page of gratitude’, where I actually ran out of space listing all the things I was grateful for in 2013. A lot of these things were moments or weeks out of my life, like Dance Camp East and the people I met there, 5 Rhythms weekends with phenomenal teachers. Others were things that will continue to unfold, like my new friendships in Lewes, the town that has been my home for a year now.
This year I don’t have any ‘resolutions’ as such: just a commitment to keep nurturing my core passions and try to include a bit of as many of them as possible in each day. That’s going well so far: I’m studying or practicing a bit of tarot and astrology each day, as well as journalling, doing yoga, meditating and of course writing. Doing the ‘small stones‘ January mindfulness writing challenge started by Satya Robyn and Kaspalita is a great way in with daily writing for me. But, and this is the crucial but, I am not going to beat myself up if I don’t do all these things every day. Inevitably there will be times when I’m tired, ill or overwhelmed, and the best self-care will be to pare the daily schedule down, and trust that I will pick up the thread again. I’ve become a lot more accepting of that. What are your intentions this year? Whatever they are, may they connect you with yourself and your passions.