In my last blog entry, I made a comment about how yearly cycles and resolutions at the beginning of the calendar year are not really my thing. They aren’t. I tend to be more focused on the beginnings and endings of my personal astrological cycles and more tuned into what is unfolding organically within my inner process than I am on the yearly calendar. New years and new intentions always feel a bit forced to me and, having tried to fit myself into that model over the years to no lasting effect, just seem better left to other people.
That being said, as I scroll through Facebook and Instagram reading the testimonies and reflections from my friends, colleagues and students, I am touched and inspired by the challenges, triumphs, upsets, victories and overall resilience the people in my life exemplify. No matter how shiny any person’s outer life appears, there is always a back story of adversity overcome, hardship experienced, and disillusionment transformed into wisdom. No matter the mess another person appears to be at any given moment in time, there is always a hidden strength that surfaces, a faith that is forged, or a tenacity revealing itself in the cracks of their seeming brokenness.
The theme emerging for me over the last cycle of my life (not the yearly cycle of 2019 but perhaps more like the last 5 years or so) is the surrender of the obsession with self-improvement. Don’t get me wrong— I love growth. I love refinement. I love all things related to the process of shedding what no longer serves and the renewal of Spirit in the recognition of what is most true. But somewhere along the way, that process stopped being about making myself into a “New and Improved me" and started being more about getting to know myself better as I am.
What I want today is to live in such a way that I can become more known to myself. And I want that knowing to happen in a spacious field of Love. And, truth be told, that aim sounds better on paper than it often feels.
In practical terms, what I am talking about is the difference between creating an intention to be more patient and instead, being curious about my chronic impatience. Instead of trying to be less angry, I am more interested in holding my anger in the light of my own Love and seeing what hurt lives underneath the anger, what unmet need stokes its fire and if, perhaps, the anger is alerting me to the fact that I have limits I am ignoring, boundaries I need to honor or pain I need to validate. I find myself more interested in clarity than I am in strategies of positivity, wishful thinking, or promises of a better tomorrow.
And, yet— I know there have been seasons in my life where a stake in the sand was required. Times when “enough was enough” and I needed to mark the moment in such a way that there was no turning back, no wiggle room, and no way to negotiate what life was requiring of me. And, if those times have come before, chance are they will come again. And, those times call for resolve— resolutions, if you will. Whether these stake-in-the-sand-moments coincide with the end of the calendar year or not, they always call for courage in the face of fear, standing strong when we feel weak and living with vulnerability and not-knowing when what we’d like most is the assurance of a “happy ending.”
While I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions as such, I didn’t want the season to end without taking a moment to acknowledge that everyone I know is dealing with something. Hidden or exposed, seen or unseen, ready -to-shift or still-in-process, pretty or messy— the human condition is a condition of coming together and falling apart, of necessary tensions living alongside one another, of pain and joy informing one another. Whether you orient yourself with the calendar year, to the zodiac, or to some other North Star is not really so important, in my opinion. What I think matters is that the process of orientation you engage helps you to navigate more authentically toward what is most true within you.
And, to be clear, if that authentic orientation means a change in diet, a visit to the gym, a new training program, an appointment with a psychotherapist, or a renewed commitment to asana, then great. And if it means vacation, more cake, and less rigidity— also great.
All right, that’s what I have on that for now.
Lots on deck for me with work— A year-long in-depth Online Training, 2020-21 Advanced 300-hour Teacher Training, A 3-Part Writing Program with Angelon Young and Regina Ryan, weekend workshops all over America as well as Japan and Singapore and 5 amazing intensives in Colorado. I am excited to continue my work with Yoga International and on a personal note, I am enjoying time on my mat, my snowboard, with my piano, and of course, with Locket, God’s most perfect creature. Oh, and spoiler alert-- a podcast will be coming your way this spring, so stay tuned for details on that. (Sign up for my mailing list, if you haven’t and subscribe to the blog.)
May you recognize Grace in its many forms in whatever cycle in which you find yourself.
photo by Andrea Killam
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"There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, beyond us all, beyond the heaven, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. This is the light that shines in our heart."