This past year has been the best of my life. I found a publisher for my book, I got nominated for a Pushcart, I had a baby for crying out loud! I'm tempted to call it an embarassment of riches, but I'm not embarassed. I'm flabbergasted, awestruck, gobsmacked, and flooded with gratitude.
One of my favorite writers, Susannah Conway, suggests setting an intention for the new year with a word. This time last year I felt lost. I'd just gone through my third round of IVF and I was waiting to see if any of my embryos were viable. I was still mourning my dog. My search for a publisher was so stalled I wasn't even getting rejection letters anymore.
When it came time to choose a word for the year, the first thing I thought of was a mantra I'd borrowed from Cesar Millan. Our new dog, Sam, was big, hairy, and more than a little unruly. I was still recovering from hip surgery, and his sixty pounds of puppy energy were a challenge on our walks. According to Cesar, a pack leader needed to be calm and assertive.
These are not two of the top ten words anyone would use to describe me.
They may not even be two of the top fifty.
But I repeated them to myself on each walk and felt how my shoulders relaxed and my back straightened.
At first I thought that maybe those were my words. Then I realized that there was a word that encompassed both: confidence. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there was a deeper meaning to confidence. One that I needed. One that I craved.
Having confidence in something or someone means that you believe in them. You have faith. There is an element of surrender to that. And in that time of uncertainty I needed calmness, assertiveness, faith, and surrender. I needed to believe in my strength and myself. I needed to believe in the universe. I needed to believe that I could handle whatever happened next, even if it wasn't what I wanted.
Throughout 2014, I repeated my word whenever I worried. I told myself that I had confidence in my work. My doctors. My body. My baby. It didn't always banish the rabid bats from my stomach, but it always gave me pause. It gave me a moment to let go.
As this unbelieveable year wound to its close, I began thinking about what my word for 2015 would be. It was hard to choose one: there are so many qualities I'd like to develop, so many people I'd like to be. I decided that what I'd like most for 2015 is to slow down and give thanks. And then my word came to me: appreciate. For me, appreciation contains gratitude, mindfulness, and a dash of celebration. I'm hoping to make it a daily practice. We'll see how it goes.
Happy New Year.