Most years, I select a word to be my focus for the year. It's usually something I'm already struggling with or something I want to invite and embrace more in my life. Some past choices have been "letting go," "balance," and "choose." This past year I didn't choose a word, so the year chose one for me. December 2012 was a mess, and by January I didn't feel focused enough to choose just one word. Instead, I selected a ton of goals and failed miserably at most of them. In the process, the year flung shit at me, captive monkey style, until I realized that I needed to focus some attention - LOTS of attention - on developing and enforcing some personal and relationship boundaries. It was a hard lesson to learn. One I desperately needed to learn, but a lesson that would have been nice to learn on my own terms, not in the midst of chaos. So this year, I have a word . . .
Hemingway reminded the world that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather looking fear in the eye and moving forward anyway. He called it "grace under pressure."
News flash: I'm not known for grace.
I can be loud and clumsy and erratic. All things I'm fine with. But over the past several years, somehow, my courage has rolled over in the face of fear, anxiety, and depression. Sure, I might look like I'm all guts and bravado on the outside, but I've been a mess on the inside.
"Do one thing every day that scares you."
I do a lot of things that might scare other people. I love trying new things and making messes. I don't blink at making most big life decisions. I follow my heart/voice/gut/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. But if doing those things and making those decisions doesn't scare me in the first place, that's not courage. That doesn't make me a brave person. While I might be an Aries girl and we're known for being bold, let's not forget that I'm a ram, not a lion. I'm fierce when challenged (tell me I can't do something . . . I dare you), but most of the time I'm content to hang out on my mountain where it's nice and safe.
"A woman is like a tea bag - you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water."
This past year, I found myself in hot water. And you know what? I took a stand. I faced it with courage and conviction. Mostly. In doing so, I realized just how weak I've been in that past, how much I've let fear make the rules and guide my actions. I saw a glimpse of how strong I can be, and I want more. So this year I'm taking a stand. I'm not going to be pushed around by the past, by my fears, or by anyone or anything else. This year, I'm going to be strong. I'm going to do the things that scare me. I'm going to do the things that keep me awake at night. I'm going to live my life on my terms, not waiting around to see what new ugly thing jumps out from the darkest corners. This year, I'm packing a flashlight and my courage and I'm gonna kick some ass.
I'll write another post soon with specific applications - writing, personal, etc. - but for now I want to sit with my word for a few days and allow it to sink in and become part of me. I think just embracing it and keeping it as a focus throughout the year will at the very least help me identify when I'm acting out of fear. Because truly . . . sometimes we just don't see it. I will no longer allow myself to make decisions simply based on the fear of "what if."
I have no idea where I'm headed this year, and I'm ok with that.
Whatever the year throws at me, I'm going to face it with purpose and courage.