Friday, December 29, 2017

2018 One Word - Partake

Choosing one word for the year is an interesting thing.  I always think I know how it will play out, but it always surprises me.  I'm sure this will be the same.

It often starts with a feeling.  I get a sense of what I need to focus on.  Sometimes a clear word.  Sometimes just an ethereal idea.  After pondering on it for a while, usually several days, I settle on the word.  Always a bit before the end of the year.  I've known my word for next year for a few weeks now.

And when I choose a new word, I tend to start changing my life to fit it, even before January first.  Can't help it.

This year's word is PARTAKE.  As usual, I have a very clear feel for what it will be, even if I can't quite say it. 

The first word that came to mind was consume, then consumption.  It was an idea that I needed to be more aware of what I take into my mind and body.  Consume was so completely not the right word, and consumption made me feel like I was in the 1800s with some disease.  I had to work on it for a bit.

But partake is so totally the right word.  It's not about devouring something.  It's about accepting something.  It has a spiritual feel to it.  It helped me flesh out my view for the year.

It's both about not partaking in something unhealthy for me and choosing to partake of things that are.  The duality of that might not be obvious.  But I can choose not to partake of certain negative things and go on my merry way without too much change.  When I'm presented with good options/opportunities, I need to partake of those.

See?  It's totally clear in my heart but tough to communicate.

I've already started to prepare and to put it into practice.  It's very compelling, this year's word.

In a simple and obvious way, I've whittled down my viewing and music choices.  I already leaned on the less adult side.  I already limited my movies to PG-13 and my TV to TV-14.  This cut out so much objectionable stuff.  (For me.  Let me be clear - this is about my tolerance, not a judgment on anyone else.)  But there's still so much that I'm not proud of, that I know isn't good for me, but I was hesitant to get rid of because I like it.

I've gone through Netflix (where I do almost all my viewing) and cleared everything from my queue that's rated more than PG.  I've also cut out some things that are PG but with content I know isn't in accordance with this plan.

I've created a new music playlist without swearing and without sex.  I already had a pretty clean selection, but once in a while I had a song I wouldn't play around other people's children.  I figure that's a pretty good indicator.

These seemed to be a good place to start, easy to discern. 

I tend to be porous, picking up on the emotions of people around me.  Not just aware of them, but carrying them, whether I want to or not.  Until now, I didn't make the connection that I have that same experience with the media I partake of.  It soaks into me in much the same way, whether I want it to or not.  I believe these changes will help lighten my soul.

But it's not just about making better choices about what I consume.  It's also about how much.  And when.  And so many other things.

And as I've begun to put it into motion, without really trying, I've found interesting thoughts cross my mind.  When I was disappointed with something and wanted to be critical, I paused.  We live in a society that seems to relish complaints, criticism, and sarcasm.  They're easy to throw around.  But when I paused I heard these words in my mind - "Partake of positivity."

I found it very intriguing.  When I stop myself from complaining or criticizing, I've always thought of it as an outward thing.  I'm doing this to them, for them.  I'm stopping negative feelings and expression from leaving me and going to the other person.  But in that moment I saw it from a different perspective.  Partaking of positivity, inviting that into my heart, stops the rest.  It strengthens me, lifts me.  It's not that I stop myself from saying or doing anything negative, because that just goes away.  It's just gone.

I know I'm not explaining this very well.  It makes sense to me.  I hope it makes a little sense to you.  And I hope I can observe and document it a bit better this year, so I can share it with you as I go along.

Do you have a word for 2018?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Year of Purpose in Review

It's time to look back on the last year and how my One Word has played out.  For 2017 that word was PURPOSE.

In anticipation, I expected I would approach things with purpose.  That I would more consciously choose what I did and choose things that had a real purpose.  A purpose of value.  That instead of running around putting out fires, which my life has so often been, I would take a breath and choose.  I would ponder, if only for a minute, what was the proper use of my time and energy.  And that did happen.  Some.

But often it played out differently.  I had something I wanted to do or needed to do and tried to find a deeper purpose in it.  I need to go to the library to pick up a book for my daughter.  But what is the greater purpose for this.  My daughter is currently house bound.  I'm going to the library as an act of service.  I am doing something for her that she can't currently do for herself.  There were many instances of that.

Or I tried to give something purpose.  I'm going for a run.  This run is to build my running base.  Or I dedicate these miles to a friend who is struggling.  Things such as this.

But most often it happened in the middle of something I was doing.  I'm on hour three of a Netflix binge.  Why?  What is my purpose for spending so much time this way?  It's an effort to avoid the struggles of my life.  It's an attempt to dull the things I'm feeling that I don't want to feel.  It's a weird way I can feel like I'm accomplishing something, as I check episodes off.  There was way more of this type of analysis than usual.

I'm big on examining my motivation for things.  But this was a bit different.  Looking for a purpose.  And asking myself if my purpose was a healthy one.  Was it good for me?  Did it serve a larger purpose?  What general direction were these choices taking me, and did that lead to my bigger purpose?  To the broader goals, the long-term goals, I have for myself.

I can honestly say I sometimes did well with this and sometimes didn't.  Finding out what my purpose for doing something was sometimes stopped me in my tracks and made me change direction.  Other times not so much.

I think this one will stick with me.  And it leads well into 2018's word.  Coming soon.