In other years I have chosen a word of the year, or set New Years Resolutions. I purposely avoided doing either this time, needing more space in my mental landscape. But suddenly there is one. I didn’t choose it. It seemed to choose itself, rising again and again to the top of my thoughts.
At the beginning of the year if I had chosen a word it might have been ‘recovery’, as I floundered around in the grips of burn out. I was on a healing journey, trying to bring back my energy and the pieces of myself I felt that I’d given away. I’d given of myself and my time to so many organizations and people that it was like a weary treasure hunt, trying to bring all those bits of me back and nourish them.
Now, as I feel fairly confident that I’m no longer in mental and emotional debt, there is a word. It comes to my mind almost daily. Gracious. Not grace, which I associate with physical expression of beauty in movement. Gracious: characterized by kindness and courtesy. I want a gracious life, a kind life, a gracefully and graciously charming life.
It’s a word that makes me breathe all the way down to the bottom of my lungs.
I want a few ordered and treasured possessions that are clean and tidy. I want to feel that I have enough time in every day for the things that will be done. I don’t want to cram tasks into my day. I don’t want to ‘hustle’. In fact, I am probably trying to put myself on a No Hustle Plan. I think I’ve spent all my time hustling since I was 26: 40 pounds too heavy, tired, surrounded by untidiness, and trying to keep up with young kids. I had a breakthrough that year and realized I would fire anyone who tried to run my life like that, and I’ve spent 15 years trying to remake myself into someone I would admire. But I have hustled.
There is a line in Princess Diaries (of all places) that also keeps surfacing in my thoughts: “A queen never rushes, she hastens.” This makes me smile, but it also hints at an important element I’m seeking. I don’t want to be a human whirlwind, dazzling and powerful but rushed and flinging things out the edges. I want to be a river – powerful but unrushed, moving forward with patience and always reaching my destination.
This second half of 2015 is about breathing room even within striving to make things better. I want a feeling of openness in the time I have, the space I occupy, a feeling that keeps surfacing with that word: gracious.
Questions still to be answered:
Within the concept of ‘striving’, is there an inherent poison? How can I find a way to challenge myself without judgement? To improve and change is woven right into my personality, but how to do it without a criticism of ‘Sarah now’?