Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve 2017

I made it. You made it. I know I'm not the only one who found 2017 challenging in all kinds of ways, but here we are. Still standing, even if we're a bit wobbly.

Take a moment to feel that. You are still here. It may be bittersweet, but there it is.

With that in mind, the truth that we are still here, I want to look to 2018. I sent out a newsletter recently with some thoughts about stories and gratitude as the year comes to an end; here I'd like to dream forward. I'm not trying to be a pollyanna - 2017 was really hard in so many ways - but if all I focus on is the anger and frustration I will not create the possibility of improvement.

I'm not and never really have been a resolution kind of person. I know myself well enough to admit that sure, I might make a New Year's resolution, but the likelihood of my keeping it because I declared it a resolution is no greater than any other new start I might undertake at any other time of the year. I try to live my daily life with clarity, integrity and forthright hope. That intention makes resolutions feel a little flat, a little false.

I'd like to look at what I am already doing well and will carry forward. By focusing on my successes I give my self-doubts less fuel. The voices that tell me I'm an imposter have a little less authority. I invite you to do this with me - what are your achievements this year? How have you continued to grow and move closer to being the person you want to be? Please let me know. The more we remember and build our strengths, the harder it becomes to shut us down, to make us doubt ourselves and our motives, to tell use we are less than. You are not less than. Neither am I.

So here it is, a few things I have done well and hope to carry into the new year. What does your list look like?

  1. Self-care. If the last few years have taught me nothing else, it's that there is no way I can create change in the world if I don't take a little care for myself now and then. For example:
    A few years ago I decided I would take real vacations (as a self-employed person my home is my workplace so I'm not good at staycations). I take two vacations a year now, even though it makes me a little crazy to lose the work time. The rest and the break both help me be better at my work and my life.
    I'm better at saying no.
    I have been deliberate in creating supportive networks for myself.
    Sure, there are places where I'm not good at self-care, but remembering the places where I have succeeded helps me think I might do better in other realms.
    I will continue to care for myself so I can care for the world.
  2. Compassion and kindness. These may be my guiding values. If I model compassion and kindness maybe others will be a little more able to do the same. If I treat those I don't understand with compassion maybe the walls will crumble a bit. I've done a good job at this, in 2017 especially.
    I will continue to offer compassion and kindness as a reflex and first option; this is not weakness.
  3. Better work and writing habits, facing the voice of the saboteur. I spend a lot of time telling myself I don't work effectively, that I'm not good at what I do, that I'm faking it all the time. The voice of the saboteur is loud and persistent. This year I have taken concrete steps to build better work and writing habits, and have tried to embrace my own competence. Yes, imposter syndrome still kicks my ass, but at least I recognize it when it visits. This feels like a victory.
    I will continue to do the best I can and will try not to believe the liars in my head.
  4. Using my voice, being less afraid. 2017 was not a year to be quiet, but I couldn't bear to only yell. I've tried very hard to post real information, to have reasoned discussions, and to help others keep going with my #barkagainstthedark and #storyseeds. Plus I have my representatives on speed dial. Additionally, I have found that my best response to fear is to step into it. I am certainly afraid of looking like a fool, being hurt, being wrong, etc, but if I dwell in fear I do nothing.
    I will not be silenced, I will not let fear win.
  5. Loving. I wrote recently that love is the easiest thing and I stand by that. I am good at loving the world, people (even those who frustrate me), and believe that love is not weakness, nor does it mean I get to control that which I love. It is a gift to me as well as to the world.
    I will not stop loving in the face of anger and fear.

So that's my list. What's yours? What shall we celebrate as we gird ourselves for 2018?
(c)2017 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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