Honoring Your One Wild and Precious Life :: Intentions for a New Year
This article first published in Natural Mother Magazine, January 2016
Throughout this post I add reflections on the evolution of this process, and where we find ourselves now in regards to many of the intentions I set then.
Have you heard that quote, “the days are long but the years are short”?
I’m present to the fleeting time as we enter a new year. To really drive the point home, we all, meaning my husband, both of our children, and myself, just celebrated the ending of one trip around the sun and the beginning of our next. It’s hard to believe how fast this chapter of life seems to be flying by. I know this is the chapter that will write my children’s childhood story, and I want this to be my very best when all is said and done.
[in the years since publication I have grown more and more gentle on myself around the expectations I hold for writing the “perfect story” or showing up as a “perfect mother”. The focus has shifted to navigating the messy of life together in a way that builds our resilience and strengthens our bonds as a family.]
Each year on my birthday, which is in December, I carve out space for a long sit at my favorite coffee shop, a yummy cuppa and my journal. I prepare for this date with myself ahead of time so that I can make the most of it; once there I get right down to the business of creating my reality – literally. Without this practice, I’m pretty sure that I would still be stuck and wishing in many areas of my life, especially the one that matters most to me – mothering.
I want for each of us to write our very best chapter right now, in the thick of it, while our children are watching. So my New Years gift to you is a peek into my process, perhaps it will inspire your unique manifesting process in time.
Begin with a journal, pen and full creative license to dream, unhindered. It’s important to set the tone for yourself, come to this from a space of playfulness and possibility. If you feel inhibited or held back by old stories about how this life you dream of isn’t possible for you, shift into knowing that this is play, this is fun, this is creativity. Anything is possible here. The strategies and tactics of how to make this daydream reality will come later.
Opening your journal, make a list of the areas you will explore during this time. The categories I look at each year include: my purpose, relationships, family, mothering, community, business, connection to spirit, contribution, health in body and mind, home and adventure. You might notice that many of these categories have a point of intersection, or a thread of continuity running throughout.
For the sake of this time together let’s explore Mothering. My thoughts on Mothering, excerpted from my journal a few years back, fell into three categories: how I show up to mothering, what I dream of experiencing with my children, and how I want to specifically support each of my boys at this place in their development. I always write these intentions as if I am living this reality already, “I am” rather than “I want to…” I’ll share what this looked like for the year I turned thirty-seven, but in your journal make this your very own unique life list.
How I show up for my children includes:
~ I am present: meaning there are chunks of time I give them my undivided attention. (This is where my list intersects with the category of health, which includes meditation and regular time alone in nature both of which help me tremendously to be able to be present for my children.)
~ I am supportive: I am becoming a better listener and cultivating the ability to ask more thoughtful questions to really understand my children.
~ I see my children for who they are, where they are on their personal journey and in their development: engage in deep level of paying attention and continue to open my mind to a story beyond my own perspective.
How we experience life together:
~ Maintaining connection: I enjoy a monthly date alone with each of my sons. This is at least a four-hour chunk of time, free of media and phones, focused on something that supports our family values and includes time for reflection on our time together.
[I loved re-reading this. At the time of writing these journal entries, which was actually a couple years before this article first published, it seemed like a stretch of the imagination to figure out how to actually create a full day alone with each child, meaning without the other. For the past couple years now I have enjoyed a full day a week alone with each of my children - a gift I will cherish forever.]
~ We play together: Create time that is intended for playing, ‘fun’day, game time, I am allowing myself to become more playful – time to play is scheduled on the calendar!
~ We enjoy the arts together: including trips to visit museums, enjoying the performing arts - be sure to plan ahead and put it on the calendar.
Supporting my children:
~ “What do they need, mama?”: I support Chaz in his desire to help others. [this is still an ongoing conversation - with some truly fantastic dreams about what is possible in the future.]
~ Tee Shirt business development: dedicated time to help Gavin develop his idea and product. [Gavin has enjoyed many iterations of his shirt design business since this time.]
~ Hardwiring Happiness: explore the ideas and methods presented by Rick Hanson.
~Mentor relationship: help them foster a meaningful relationship with a nature connection mentor. [both boys now have long standing rich relationships with multiple, extraordinary mentors.]
The key to making these words become more than just ink on the page is making sure that your heart is fully aligned with the shift that is being called forth. Make sure that each part of your list originates in your heart, not your head.
At this point you have a great list of the heart-centered ‘what’. The next step is to elaborate on each part. Take some time to really feel into the ‘why’ behind each action you are asking of yourself. What will being more playful, and carving out intentional time for play, do for me? That’s right! What will it do for me?
It’s really important to get clear on what each of these intentions will mean to you, how it will feel inside your life once this has already come to be reality. A big part of manifesting this shift into reality is feeling into it before it has come to be in ordinary reality.
When I am playing with my children, for example, my heart feels light inside my chest and the tension between my eyes melts away like a dripping ice-cream in summer and at the end of the day, I drift off to sleep feeling satisfied and confident in the relationship we are cultivating. Taking time to play with my children brings more happiness into my life, and theirs. When I’m playing with my children more our eyes twinkle, our faces enjoy spontaneous smiles, we are rolling around on the ground, running, and chasing each other, and in the end, more hugs are happening. Our home is filled with the sound of laughter, kind conversation and easeful transitions.
At this point you have identified what is important in these key areas of your life. You’ve taken the time to really identify why it’s so important and how it will look, feel, and sound once this shift has taken place.
The next, critical part is to identify what your strategies and tactics are to actually make this happen before you are reviewing your notes at the turn of the year, next year. Your strategy is the what and your tactics are the how.
For example, I have a desire to maintain connection with each of my children; one of my strategies for doing so is to commit to a monthly one-on-one date with each of them. The tactics for making this date happen and making it hold the opportunity for us to really connect beyond the daily include: schedule our four hour date time well in advance, be sure there is also something fun planned for the other child, turn off the phone, make space for shared reflection.
For bigger changes in my life I have needed to enlist support in the form of accountability partners, teachers, coaches and trainers. There is good reason why we often begin a new year with all sorts of fancy intentions and at the end of the year, few, if any, have actually come to be part of our identity. Our brain is wired to survive, not thrive. If we did something one way yesterday, and it didn’t kill us, our subconscious mind sees that as a real win because we survived, even if doing it that way makes us horribly miserable, like staying in a dysfunctional relationship or mothering our children in a way that we swore we wouldn’t, but can’t seem to shift out of. The subconscious mind is really good at it’s job and you may think you are in charge of you, but the truth is that our conscious mind is only running the show approximately ten to fifteen percent of the time, the rest of the time we are on auto pilot run by our subconscious mind.
To shift our autopilot mode of operations we need to be really clear about the what, the why, the how and how it feels. We need a plan to remember what path we desire to walk and we need to be willing to get support when it’s needed.
I recommend keeping your journal handy, and reading through your intentions at the least weekly. Making our dreams visible is a powerful practice. I often have a visual reminder that holds my intention and commitment to this shift. For example, when I was doing the big work of shifting my parenting dynamic from a more control-over paradigm to a relationship-with paradigm of parenting, I had several reminders of the path I was dedicated to walking, in addition to coaching support and guidance, my favorite daily reminders were a verse I said every morning to set my intention for the day, and a Rose Quartz stone that sat on my kitchen window sill. Rose Quartz is the heart stone; it’s gentle and loving and reminded me to walk in the same way. So finding something that signifies the intention you have set and can bring you home to it, when you stray.
[Allow your symbolic item be something that you already have, truth be told we don’t need to mine our Earth Mother for any more gems so please don’t let this be your prompt to run to the nearest gem store. If there’s something you are really called to work with, be patient and see where it might come from, who might be ready to pass theirs along, etc.]
This year I am wishing for you the bravery to dream, the space to write it down, the dedication to your own life, and the tenacity to create it! This is your one wild and precious life!