Saturday, December 30, 2017

Reflections Over Resolutions

I took this image with my film camera
in Carbon Canyon. 
It's the last Saturday of 2017 and the penultimate day of this eventful year. This is the time of year when almost everyone reflects on what 2017 brought in their lives: love or heartache; pain or happiness; joy or grief; losses or gains; highs or lows; rock bottom or top of the world.
In my Instagram post a few days ago I captioned one of my film photos with: I stopped making New Year's resolutions a long time ago. Instead, I treat each new day as a beginning, embrace the good w/grace, face the bad w/courage, experience the pain without running from it & roll with the unexpected surprises Life throws at me. 2018, I surrender to you.

A few years ago, I finally learned a valuable nugget of wisdom. New Year's resolutions are bullshit. This lightbulb moment hit me in the middle of one year when I was confronted once again with a handful of failed resolutions. I used to beat myself up for it.

I never questioned why we painstakingly wrote down resolutions at the beginning of the new year until that moment when I sat defeated in my failure to complete them. I turned to the good ol' internet to figure out how resolutions started.

Lo and behold, did not fail to enlighten me.

"The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year—though for them the year began not in January but in mid-March, when the crops were planted. During a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor—a place no one wanted to be."

With narrowed eyes and flared nose I almost hissed like a demogorgon at my computer screen. Every year, we kill ourselves over resolutions because some old ass people thousands of years ago made promises to pagan gods at the beginning of the new year which, by the way, started in the middle of March! And no one questioned this? Ever? No wonder we all fail or suck at getting our resolutions done!

For me, 2017 was about making each day a renewal of my life. I practiced letting go of what no longer served me every night before I fell asleep so that I woke up each morning with a sense of rebirth. Sure, there were some days I let my anger toward Ray or my mom or my kids flow into the next. Full disclosure: I let three days go by giving Ray the silent treatment for what, I don't even remember.

I lived those days in mindfulness knowing my behavior was SO wrong and against everything I learned. Yet, I gave myself permission to be there at the moment instead of beating myself up for failing to be an enlightened and saintly creature.

It's a beautiful way to live without having a bunch of crappy resolutions holding me captive. It left me open to whatever the Universe had in store for me that I would have been blinded to if I solely focused on my list of resolutions.

In my Passion Planner , each block of day in the monthly calendar I've written one thing I'm grateful for so I'll always remember what filled my heart with gratitude every day of the entire year. In these last few days of 2017 my daily gratitude practice fuels my reflections of the past year instead of creating stupid resolutions.

Below are the highlights of each month in 2017 that I've taken from my Passion Planner and they're not all good. I've also taken the lows and learned from them, too.

January 21, 2017: Grateful for marching in the Women's March with Micaela and Gabby.

February 27, 2017: Grateful to drop Ray off at LAX for his P.I. trip & spend time at Lu's. (Lu is my sis.)

March 2017 (all month): Grateful for my family & friends who helped celebrate my birthday; for the silence/solitude while Ray is in P.I., for Ray's safe return home.

April 19-23, 2017: Grateful to visit Maricelle/Ben in New York with Ray.

May 5, 2017: Grateful for family who supports Tristan/Becca during their second miscarriage.

June 3, 2017: Grateful for marching w/Ray for the 1st time at the March For Truth in L.A.

July 27, 2017: Grateful for biopsy results---no cancer! No surgery!

August 25, 2017: Grateful for starting acupuncture and for rest!

September 25, 2017: Grateful for Tristan/Becca who told me they are pregnant.

October 19, 2017: Grateful for my new car I bought without my ego!

November 24, 2017: Grateful for Becca & baby okay and healthy. (They were at the E.R. for bleeding.)

December 18-20, 2017: Grateful for spending time w/Ray in Las Vegas: ziplining Fremont st, watching KA, riding High Roller.

Obviously these highlights were only a few of many throughout the year. It goes without saying that my family, friends, health and job are daily reasons for gratitude. My oldest got engaged in Bali while she was on her monthlong travels with her fiancé. My middle finished three classes while juggling her single mom duties.

In 2017, my life revolved around my health and the condition I've suffered with for over 10 years. It was a debilitating condition that put the brakes on my livelihood every month but I refused to let it run my life. (I'll explain more in a blog post later.) But this condition led to the major changes I made in my life that six months later I can say have been a journey of healing.

I know that every year we make resolutions to lose weight, get fit and healthier. This year I dumped all my preconceived notions of getting fit into the trash. Instead of feeling bad for not being able to run, or afford the stupid gym or lift heavy weights I was open to other fitness options. Enter, zumba. I mean, who knew zumba would help my middle aged body get fit and lose weight? I've been stuck in the mindset that running and weights were the only way to go. I'm looking forward to more zumba in 2018.

On the eve of New Year's eve I look back and know that I lived my life in the best way I knew.

In 2018, I intend to live my life like the untethered soul we are all meant to be. I will often go back and reread Michael Singer's The Untethered Soul to guide me through the year and to remind me that life can be lived with an insurmountable freedom.

  • I will accept that "life will unfold in accordance with forces far outside of your control, regardless of what your mind says about it." 
  • I will remember that "it's the commotion the mind makes about life that really causes problems."
  • I will remind myself that "true personal growth is about transcending the part of you that is not okay and needs protection."
  • I will make "a commitment to explore your capacity for receiving unlimited energy." 
  • I will work on not closing my heart because it "does not really protect you from anything; it just cuts you off from your source of energy. IN the end, it only serves to lock you inside." 
  • I will "embrace life with all your heart and soul." 
  • I will be "willing to experience the gift of life instead of fighting with it" because "you will be moved to the depth of your being. When you reach this state, you will begin to see the secrets of the heart." 
May you all experience this beauty in 2018! That is my wish for you.