Powerful Stories of Courage and Hope
January 14, 2012
Well it’s another year. 2012. By now, any of us who do the New Year’s Resolution thing, have made and probably already broken, at least one or more of our New Years Resolutions. I have some questions about this New Year’s Resolution thing.
My first question is: Why do we do this to ourselves?
Our New Years Resolutions of any year seem to always become just one more thing that we beat ourselves up for, sometimes for the entire year running. Why do we even make NYR’s knowing we are going to end up not only breaking them but also beating ourselves up on top of it?
My second question up for general consideration is: Are there any other options out there somewhere to take the place of NYR’s?
I believe there are other options.So now for your consideration, I propose to you, Dear Reader:
THE WORDS TO THRIVE BY” NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS PREP KIT
The “Words to Thrive By” New Year’s Resolution Kit begins with how to look at both the previous year and the year to come with a new perspective. The ”Words to Thrive By” New Year’s Resolution Kit will hopefully help us each find some New Year’s Resolutions we can even achieve for once in our lives.
Here are 4 questions for you to ponder for your life as you begin this new year:
1. What went RIGHT last year?
Yes you heard me: What went right last year? Now make a list of all the things you did that were really pretty darn good last year. This list doesn’t have to be the things that you did that were “perfect” or even “reasonable.” Those two lists would probably be pretty darn short in length.
I’m talking simple things. Smiling at a stranger. Helping someone out in some small way. Just being nice, maybe when you didn’t even feel like it. Maybe you made a good decision last year that darn it all, you’re proud of it. Maybe it’s something you did well, like get to yoga class on time for a change. Maybe you paid off your bills or got on a payment plan finally, after wondering what that experience would be like all these years.
So what is it for you? Think large and small not perfect or reasonable. Now write them down at the top of a piece of paper.
2. What do you have to FORGIVE yourself for?
Now make a list of what you feel you need to forgive yourself for. These would be the things you may have said or done deliberately or even accidentally that you still feel bad about. Serious “my bad” stuff. Guilt feelings, whether huge or tiny, is what we’re talking about here. Add them to your list.
3. What would you like to LET GO of from last year?
Then we have all the other stuff we did or said last year that we’re still feeling embarrassed about or otherwise kicking ourselves for. This is one of those: ‘OMG! I cannot believe that I did that! I will NEVER live that down! EVER!’ experiences.
The first thing I want to say about these kinds of horrific experiences, those “full stop” moments, moments that perhaps now frequent your nightly dreams, (or should I say nightmares?), is that you are not alone. We all have ‘em. Sometimes throughout the entire year. All the little persnickety things that nag at you all the time, sometimes once in a while, sometimes day and night, can really wear you down.
No more. Today is the day you are gonna let at least one of ‘em go from last year. Whatever it was, it’s over now. Done. You cannot go back in time, only forward. (OK, quantum physics or “wormhole” experts might argue with me on that one but…) Time to give it up.
Go ahead. Put it, whatever it was, on your list. Say out loud, ”I’m finally ready to let go of my incredible, idiotic, stupid, bizarre whatever….” Trust me. You can do this.
4. What can you imagine yourself looking FORWARD to in the New Year to come?
I would like to believe that together, we as the “Words to Thrive By Community,” could make a very long list of answers to this question. But if you get stuck, here’s want to do:
Close your eyes for a moment and ask yourself:
“What can I imagine myself looking FORWARD to in the New Year to come?”
Now, don’t panic. Don’t open your eyes. Don’t give up. Just let your mind wander until you feel pulled or motivated from a new idea or image or vision for yourself doing or feeling something that may come to mind that you might enjoy.
A new hobby? Maybe you’ve have always wanted to learn how to quilt but have been putting it off and putting it off. Can you imagine yourself sitting in front of a sewing machine, surrounded with bright colored fabrics all around you and hearing the “Hummmmmm…” of the sewing machine in action?
Can you imagine it and see it? It could be a new work design in your mind or the yarn of a knitting project or a kit for a motorized model airplane or trip you’ve always wanted to take?
Whatever comes to you, write it down on your list. Don’t be afraid to allow your mind to wander for a few minutes until something comes to you.
So now you have your own personal WORDS TO THRIVE BY RESOLUTION LIST FOR 2012.
Surprised? Did I just hear you say, “Huh?”
I know it’s not a long list of all the habits you want to break, or the ways you promise you’ll change or the somethings will never happen again. But no. This is a very different kind of list.
It’s a list filled with your imagination of possibilities you could look forward to:
Dreams. Hopes. Possibilities. Fun. Adventures. Joys. Play. Love. Delights. Inspirations. Creations. Foods. Projects. Conversations. Coffees. Competitions. Naps. Weekly Sports highlights.
Yup. that’s definitely different for a New Year’s Resolutions List.
So as we enter The New Year 2012, I wish for each of you, my Dear Readers:
The awareness of what went right last year.
The letting go of guilt.
The letting go of shame.
The looking forward to the you who you’ve always known down deep inside. That would be the you who believes anything is possible, embraces their dreams, follows their heart and doesn’t give up. No way. No how.
Happy New Year. 2012.
With warmest regards,
Mary Anne Dorward
December 8, 2011
Earlier this year I participated in the traditional Japanese New Year’s rice ceremony called Mochitsuki, at beautiful IslandWood, an unusual 255-acre outdoor learning center on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Island-Wood was originally designed to provide exceptional learning experiences. I certainly had an exceptional learning experience that day. I discovered that the Mochitsuki ceremony is the perfect metaphor for my life.
In the Mochitsuki ceremony, glutinous rice is soaked overnight and then cooked.
The hot, cooked rice is then pounded hard over and over and over with large
wooden mallets called kine in a traditional mortar called an usu. Eventually, the
individual grains of rice have been pounded so much that they let go of their
separateness and change into a smooth, sticky, opaque paste of rice dough. This
soft, opaque white dough is twisted off and smoothed into balls called mochi.This mochi is then eaten with salty shoyu sauce, dropped into hot vegetable soup, orused to cover red bean paste, or ice cream and many other dishes.
Like the countless grains of rice in any batch of mochi in the Mochitsuki ceremony, all of us have had countless experiences. I have been pounded and pounded over and over again, and as a result, I am now much more smoother, more elastic, and more flexible. Just as I love each piece of mochi, different in shape or taste depending on what is around or inside it, the many experiences of my life have been tasty, some easier to get down than others, I’ll admit.
But each moment, each experience, has transformed me and helped me grow into who I am now. I have learned that the painful pounding, stretching, and shaping I have endured is as important to my life journey as my moments of deep joy, laughter, and peace. Each experience, from devastating to glorious, has had its own measure of grace. Now, I just try to be open to what is present in each moment and allow all to be well, no matter what comes.
We are, each of us, a collection of stories. In the end, the words we choose to define any moment of our lives will be the legacy we leave behind.
What are your favorite words and what do you imagine will be the legacy you will leave behind?
November 10, 2011
OK. I’ll admit it. I hate The Holidays. And from what I can tell from talking to people recently, I am not alone. Go ahead and admit it. You’re starting to get that sinking feeling again. The Holidays Are Coming…..
So, here are my
Twelve Tips for People Who Hate The Holidays:
1. No one really enjoys The Office Holiday Party. We work with these people every day. Now I have to do it on my own time? I wish The Boss would scrap the Office Holiday Party and just give me the five hours as paid time off so I could have my own party. Hey. Even a token gift card from The Boss instead of a party would work for me.
2. What is the actual limit on the number of times you can “re-gift’ those absolutely awful, totally useless, “this (whatever) is SO Not Me!” presents? And along the same lines, what is the official response when my “re-gifted” item is “gifted” back to me? Does anybody know?
3. In fact, This Holiday Season, don’t give gifts. Don’t shop. Don’t do Anything for Anyone. Take all the pressure off. Give yourself the gift of Freedom From Care this Holiday Season. You just took yourself right off the “Holiday Consumer Treadmill.” What a concept huh? Funny thing too: It might surprise you how bright, and dare I say “cheerful?”, all those holiday lights might start looking.
4. When you are sitting in the airport waiting for your delayed flight or stuck in a traffic jam en-route to visit family for The Holidays, you always wish you had – just – stayed – home. How about you just – stay – home this year?
5. When you are sitting at The Holiday table listening to “Aunt Jo” tell the same story for the five hundredth time, you might consider screaming, “OH! Put a sock in it!” as you imagine stuffing a turkey drumstick or a Christmas stocking down her throat. Instead, offer her another seriously spiked egg nog. Maybe she’ll just pass out and finally stop talking after all these years.
6. Do I reeeeally have to play “Secret Santa” again this year? Reeeeally?
7. Statistics show that “the average person gains five pounds over The Holidays and never ever loses them.” What if we just skipped all the food and special treats this year, gave the money to charity that we would have spent on all that un healthy food and then went to a fun movie and ate popcorn instead? OK. So some people think even popcorn is unhealthy. But c’mon people, at a movie, popcorn is a must and we can even overlook the “add extra butter” calories too. It’s The Holidays after all!
8. No one really enjoys visiting The Family over The Holidays. Especially if you have to eat four turkeys at four separate houses with four separate families a la “The Four Christmas’s.”
9. Avoid The Holiday Music. Everywhere. It’s seriously contributing to The Collective Holiday Hypnosis which suggests we must go out and buy more stuff, get into tedious conversations with people we really don’t care about, be cheery at all times and hum along with The Holiday Music with a smile on our faces, no matter how we may really feel at any given moment. Wagner’s “Ride Of The Valkyries” would be a more appropriate musical choice for surviving The Holidays. (go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V92OBNsQgxU to get my drift here)
10. Remember humor can be used as a weapon especially when alcohol enters The Holidays. Someone always gets drunk and offends someone else. And that someone else usually leaves The Holiday gathering hurt or in tears. Don’t let this happen to you! Put on and wear your Emotional Body Armor at all times. This Holiday Season when someone hits you with an alcohol induced jab or you see that ol familiar poisoned verbal dart coming your way from that obnoxious relative, you can just let it blow on by. With your Emotional Body Armor on and humming “Ride of The Valkyries” you will emerge victorious instead of your usual emotionally bruised and physically battered post Holiday Season Self.
11. And by the way, feel free to ban whomever you want from your own home during The Holidays. It’s your right.
12. During The Holidays, always do your best to smirk to yourself in private. Just think of all the awful things you reeeeally could say at any given moment during The Holidays, but so thoughtfully keep to yourself. That’s right. You deserve a medal.
So feel free to share your own personal favorite “Nightmare Before Christmas” here as a comment. We all know that The Truth is stranger than fiction, especially when it comes to The Holidays. And you really would be doing us all a favor by sharing because we’ll all feel a heck of a lot better if you air out just a little bit of your Bah Humbug before The Holiday Season officially starts this year. So go on. Let er rip!
And for those of you who truly LOVE The Holidays, what’s your secret? Inquiring minds wanna know!