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New Year's Resolutions & Dedications

New Year's Resolutions & Dedications

It's that time again when we reflect on the year past and on what things and ways of being we would like to bring into our lives in the new year. We make earnest resolutions—I'll get up a half hour earlier to meditate, I'll be better about calling family members on the phone, I'll stop eating so much chocolate. That sort of thing. Often this feels like self-finger wagging, a version of "Thou Shalt, or Shalt Not." So I also like to think of these resolutions as dedications. What do we dedicate our lives to and how will we go about fulfilling these?

I'm still in the process of making my own manifesto of resolutions and dedications, but here are a few. Some are taken from this excellent article by Amanda Willemyne, "How to be a beacon of calm amidst stress—ten strategies to build your resilience and calm against stress and pervasive angst."

Slow down: That's pretty straightforward. When I move too quickly I am telling myself I don't have enough time, I'll never get it all done, etc. Slowing down, telling yourself you have plenty of time, eases inner pressure and stress. Can we ever "get it all done" anyway? I don't think so.

Make a transition: Instead of going nonstop from one project or activity to the next, pause. We are not mules who are made to go from one task to another. Pause after one project: take a few breaths; look out the window; sit down for a minute before jumping—or moving slowly—into the next activity. Put yourself into neutral for a moment or twenty before shifting into drive again.

Respond rather than react: Our ego tends to react to something a person says or does that we don't like. Our defenses go up and we might say or do something we'll wish we hadn't. If we pause we might choose to respond in a more constructive way to a stressful situation.

Avoid or minimize multi-tasking: Who said we had to do more and more at one time? It's a form of tyranny. We don't have to do it. We can resist.


I also remind myself of these insights I've gotten from visionary author and astrologer Caroline Casey:

Change "got to" to "get to." Instead of saying "I've got to go to the dentist," you say, "I get to go to the dentist." Got to> Get to. It changes everything!

When faced with a burdensome challenge try saying to yourself, "Let us conduct ourselves like kings and queens with all eternity before us." [Substitute "me" or "myself" if you like. It's especially useful to say to yourself when you're racing to get it all done.]

Entertain possibility and let us not be snookered into polarity. That is, let's not be drawn into antagonistic attitudes and behaviors that pit one against the other. We need to listen to each other and find common ground.

These are a few highlights that I want to keep in mind and practice as I go forward into 2018. The bottom line is that I want to contribute what I can to create a better world for people and the Earth. I like the question from Fr. Richard Rohr: "Will you engage this moment with kindness or with cruelty, with love or with fear, with generosity or scarcity, with a joyous heart or an embittered one?"

Angels, as this year now nears its end
Fold their wings, as gently down they bend.
Rent and broken hopes on earth to mend.
May they find us ready to rise!

Angels, at the dawn of a New Year
Spread bright wings and rise, and rise from here
Raising us to heights we crave, yet fear.
May they find us daring!
—David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B.

[With thanks to Tessa Bielecki for sharing this]

I wish you a year of good health,
good spirits and inspired action for positive change.


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