Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What a Year for a New Year

Awaiting Sunrise by MikeBehnken, cc license
I've found myself doing a lot of processing over the past few weeks. At the end of the year I like to take stock of where I've been and then look forward to where I'd like to go. This year, as I think back and look ahead I feel like I'm drowning in questions.

How do I live alongside suffering?

I am aware that there is pain and suffering and atrocities that occur in our world every day. When it occurs geographically closer, I feel it more acutely. In response to recent tragedies, and especially the lives lost in Newtown, CT, I've been holding space to think about the souls that violently crossed-over, the families and friends who are experiencing such intense grief and loss, and all of us who are processing the trauma that comes from being reminded of how fragile and uncertain our lives are. I appreciate the discussions and debates the shooting has prompted around violence and safety and I always applaud measures to provide more useful and compassionate mental health care. However, I think it is even more important to take time to turn off all of the media and influx of information to take stock within: What do I believe about life and death? How do I cope with my fear of losing loved ones? How can I find meaning in atrocity? What can I do to help myself and others distinguish between what is in our control, what is not, and to experience meaningful suffering in a productive way? And one I keep coming back to....

What's important? 

Earlier this month, I was challenged to think about how I would spend my time if I knew that 2013 would be my last year on earth. I immediately thought that I would spend every waking moment with the people I loved. Soon after that thought, I was caught up in the inertia of the holidays and I found myself making cookies instead of making phone calls to catch up with dear friends. It's so easy to get caught up in the many tasks we give ourselves (or accept from others) and lose sight of what's really important to us. I'm still working on my 2013 resolutions, but one of them is to regularly carve out time to get together with and to be truly present with the people in my life. And, luckily, I have some time that has been freed up which brings me to...

What's next? 

Completing my master's degree was a loooong haul, but it also provided me with a distant goal for years. Now that that's accomplished I can feel the space it's left. At times it feels like a large open meadow ripe for frolicking. At other times, I feel like I'm staring at a blank page with no idea how to fill it. You know the feeling?

I have some ideas that are beginning to take shape and I am eager to share them with you as they materialize. More on that very soon. :)

I am sending out love and wishing you a peaceful beginning to the new year. Here's to an honest and gentle 2013!

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