The end of a year is always a time of reckoning for me. I don’t like to live a life with rigid plans, but I do want to I live my life with meaning and intention. I find having a few goals in mind helps me do that. Otherwise its too easy just to float along, having a great time, but not perhaps doing that which makes my heart sing, and my soul come alive. So at this time of year I like to consider the year past, and have a few goals for the one ahead.
Looking backwards, I see this past year as a turning point in the midlife years of my life. The decision to leave our one hundred year old cherished heritage home in Nelson, in a vibrant, thoughtful, conscious and creative town in the beautiful mountains of the Kootenays, leaving an amazing community of beloved friends, some of the funniest people I’ve ever table danced with, friends to cycle with, ski with, explore the mountains with, dance with, cry with and above all, to laugh with – was not an easy thing to do, or to even contemplate. But something called us and we listened, and trusted, and followed, and here we are. In the middle of a grand adventure, perhaps the biggest of a lifetime. Like any good adventure, it has had moments of difficulty, adversity, challenge, some fear and at times it seemed like madness. But time and time again on this journey, all the difficulties would be instantly forgotten by an experience of astonishing beauty. Something so special and so ALIVE that we would instantly forget about the hardship. So we’ve lurched from one extreme to the other, and through it all, we have most definitely felt alive. And perhaps that is what adventure is for, at the end of the day. To savor this living.
Along the way I’ve learned that I am braver than I thought, and that if I don’t feel brave, faking it and pretending can take me a long way. I’ve learned that the hardest part is taking the first step. And taking the first step is so much easier than not taking the first step. I’ve learned that things can mostly be overcome, and if not, mainly adjusted to. We are adaptable. At least, I’ve discovered about myself a capacity to see and make the best of situations.
I’ve also learned that making time for wilderness, for being in this amazing wild planet with my eyes open, is happiness personified. I am not sure why this is so, why being in the wilderness makes me happier than being in say, Walmart, or even a nice coffee shop, but I know that it is most definitely so.
I’ve learned that having a sense of humor and a zest for life is a beautiful, and important thing. When I think back to the time I spent with my beloved and deeply missed Nelson friends, what we most have in common, and what I most enjoy about them, is how much fun they are to be around. They are to a person always ready to get together for some punishing outdoor group bike or ski, or some great food and drink, some dancing and music, but the unifying theme of the gathering is always laughter and fun. We don’t talk about politics, or the state of the world, or the economy. We have fun. Sure, they are lovely and kind and caring and supportive during sad times, but when we are together, there are not many sad times. There are not too many things sad enough to warrant not laughing. And what a gift they have given me – not just great memories, and so many of them, but the experience of those fun times that I carry forward with me now, as I create new and fun friendships in Yellowknife.
I love making new year’s resolutions. There is something about setting out an intention that makes it come true. Once, many years ago, I wrote out a lifetime bucket list. I recently came across that list, and to my surprise, had done many of them. The unfinished ones remain on the list, and I’ll do them too some day. (I still have to run a marathon and become fluent in Spanish, but I’m making progress on both fronts). Reading the bestselling book “The Happiness Project” has helped me focus my thoughts on the upcoming year. I plan to take focus on one area per month, and if I get really organized, I even plan to keep myself accountable for moving in the direction I hope to reach. In no particular order, my incomplete list includes,
1. Stronger body. I can’t run that marathon until I deal with my stiff and sore back, which limits me. I’ve also realized that if I would just discipline myself and do my back exercises everyday, I’d be able to overcome this. While I have the best of intentions, I never seem to manage this. Not sure why, but I aim to change that this year. And once I get the back under control, I want to become very fit and strong. There is something so liberating, so full of life, in a body that can run and jump and move all day long.
2. Self discipline. (See item one, above). Somewhere in my travels I’ve moved away from my inherently stoic philosophy of dealing with things. Now its time to move on again. Not back to denial, but on to being perhaps a little more emotionally tough. No idea how to do this, but I’ve just ordered an interesting book on the topic, which will hopefully be of some use. Hoping to eat just a little less chocolate and coffee!
3. Patience. (See item two, above). I’ve never been great at this, and seem to be decidedly worse of late. I can’t change who I really am, but I think I can smooth my rough edges.
4. More wilderness time. Yes, I am living on the edge of wilderness, and its a part of every day, but I want to use my time here and really get out to some wild places. I hope that this year seems me on the barren lands at least once, camping and canoeing.
5. Creativity. I’ve discovered that finding creative expression is important to me, and something I’ve not made enough room for. Maybe this year at last I’ll take up the knitting projects I’ve planned, learn to make wonderful bread, french pastries and start a serious writing project. I also hope to obtain mastery over all those knobs and dials on my camera!
6. Relationships – such an important part of life. Family, friends and the larger community. Making time for this life giving force. I’ve recently read that female friendships especially are what nourish us. Both men and women find mental and physical benefits from female friendship, but not male friendships. There is something special and nurturing about talking to a woman who is a good listener. I want to be that person, and have that person in my life as well.
7. Gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for. I live a blessed life, and, with rare exceptions, have everything I’ve ever wanted. I never ever want to take this for granted. I want to count my blessings daily, and pass them on.
Happy New Year to you, and may your year ahead be full of gratitude, adventure and fun! Namaste.