So many words came to mind. My 2012 word was mindful. I considered calm, peace, reflect, and a lot of antonyms to chaos. None of them felt like the mot juste. So I kept searching. What do I need to learn in 2015? 2014 was a year of transition: a new school for my daughter, a new house for my family, and at work, 4 different managers and a job change. I seek some stability and comfort in my routine.
How did I face this last transition year? Not always with grace, I'm afraid. Particularly in often-shifting situations, I was too bossy and controlling as a way to exert the power I craved. I kept myself busy with projects, sometimes to the point of overwhelm. It's important to give back to your work, family, community, etc. But like the old oxygen mask adage, you need to care for yourself first to have enough to contribute. More does not equal better. It can lead to clutter in your belongings, too many insecure thoughts, not enough time for introspection.
So, I reflected on what control means to me. A lot of control is feeling competent and in power, so it makes sense that it's what I sought in a year of change. A fantastic manager from 2014 helped me to understand my sphere of influence when it comes to items I cannot control. So rather than focus on global issues or problems, my limited time is best spent exerting control and influence in the areas where I can make a difference.
Now that the dust has settled in 2015, I seek to cede control wherever possible. I am realizing that I lack experience in this area. I don't know how to not fill my life; I've never tried it. It's a huge leap of faith to imagine that I can just turn off, or turn down, what has made me successful for the last 34 years. Part of me wonders why I would want to. But the larger part realizes the fallacy of control and is willing to experience this transformation. To focus more on my reasons for needing this power, and backing off.
I am a huge believer in messages coming your way over and over, in different ways, until you can internalize them and integrate them into your life. Several dear friends have attempted to show me that I am too overwhelmed in the past. I have adopted these well-intentioned teachings only to the extent I knew how at the time. I struggled with the impulse to Let It Go last Halloween, and I've become better at letting the small things go. But what about the larger ones? And how can I internalize this lesson, besides using a mantra bracelet? Here's a NSFW (profanity) article about the subtle art of letting go, and choosing what to focus on.
I'm evolving, one small step at a time. This year I'm learning to sit with the discomfort and overwhelm, and resist every impulse to distract myself or tune out from the uncomfortable feelings. I don't really need to check my mobile phone every 5 minutes. My friends and family will always be on the other end. While I am looking for a breakthrough, I realize that they don't happen overnight.
It was snowing when I dropped Lu off at school today. I took it slow, since my car is suboptimal in the snow. I left my daughter at the front door with a kiss. Seeing no reason to rush home, I took a different route home using right turns rather than face a dangerous left turn across 3 lanes on a busy, snowy morning. On the way, I made a right turn that brought me right to a dead end, so I needed to turn around. I took a deep breath and registered my initial frustration on my new route taking even longer. I realized that this was a remnant of my cluttered thinking that I always need to rush to the next thing. So I breathed again and returned on my way.
It's a small step. But it feels right to eliminate some left turns in my life at this moment, and seek an alternate route.