Monday, December 22, 2014

Design Your Year: 2015

I find December difficult. I call it Holiday Seasonal Affective Disorder (or H-SAD): a dislike of the short days, the mandatory gaiety (or at the very least the struggle not to harsh others' buzz) and the rampant consumerism. Most years, I find myself wishing I could go to bed on December 1st and wake up on the 31st, just in time to bid the old year, and especially December, a hearty farewell.

This year, December has been particularly difficult. The past year has been a doozy – lots of heartbreak, some serious illness in my family, the realization that I've made some big mistakes over the past couple of years and am now facing the consequences of those decisions, an ensuing depression, and my struggles to answer a call from within to take better care of myself, including doing some challenging work to transform my relationship with food and eating

Yes, 2014, you were a big, bad year. One for the books. 

There can be something sweet about closing the door on a difficult year

Well, bittersweet, at least. Which is to say, that I've been mostly feeling bitter. I definitely have a tendency toward the year-end review, and I have been looking back over this past year with a bad attitude, my disappointments and pain looming much larger than my accomplishments and blessings. The sweet part though, is that time marches on and the present becomes the past. Wounds begin to heal and hope begins to return.

I am a fan of new years in general – I like the feeling of a fresh start, the feeling of possibilities and potential. The chance to re-think and change things, to make better decisions for myself, to evolve and grow. 

I know it's just an artificial line in our invented sense of time. Every day is the beginning of another 365, but personally, I'm always happy to draw a line shortly after Christmas and start again.

A little help...!?

I felt like I needed a some extra mojo to shape a plan for some new and different experiences in 2015. When I read that Jamie Ridler was offering a planning workshop called "Design Your Year", I was  very interested. Jamie is a creativity coach in Toronto and I've done work with her in the past, including a dream board workshop, a glorious creativity-sparking dance party and participating in the Kickin' It Old Skool Blogathon (which did wonders for my H-SAD last year). 

I'm not a formal planner, usually preferring to fly by the seat of my pants, but I felt in my gut that I wanted to take Jamie's class. Unfortunately, though, it was offered at a time that didn't work for my schedule. I had another commitment; I thought I had to let Jamie's class go. But then, I discovered that Jamie was making a playback of the class available until January 31, 2015 and I could do it any time before then. As soon as I heard that, I signed up.

I did the class this past weekend...

What Design Your Year looked like for me.

It was excellent!

I feel like it brought me a ton of clarity about what I want and what I need for 2015. And it was fun: with sticky notes, journaling exercises, visual exercises and lots of guidance from Jamie about the many possibilities: different ideas about how to structure, grow and release the ways I think about planning.

I often have a "get 'er done" attitude toward the year – for example: "this year I'm going to record and release a CD", or "this year I'm going to play as many gigs as I possibly can and find out if I have a chance at becoming famous." Yes, I don't usually shy away from big goals and I would even say that in the past I have had a tendency toward grandiosity. 

The coming year is going to be very different.

My hopes for 2015

I have a number of gentler, more personal and internal goals for 2015. I still want to make and share creative work, so I'm excited about my 2015 52-Song Project (more about that over on my music blog). And I plan to revive my old practice of running "Creative Marathons" near the solstices and equinoxes next year.

My main focus, though, is going to be on self-care and self-respect. I want (and need) to improve my ability to make decisions that are gentle, kind and decent to myself. I want to deepen my yoga practice, do more work around food, eating and body image and make peace with the past couple of years, through forgiveness, understanding and humility. 

I want 2015 to be a gentle year, a simple year, a fun and delightful year. I want it to be a peaceful year, a relaxed year, an easy year, a straightforward year. 

Most of all, I want this year to be for me. I have an overall tendency to give away a lot of my time and energy. Usually, I have lots to spare, so it's not a problem. Sadly though, I have shared too many buckets from my well and received too little rain over the past couple of years. I feel depleted. The coming year needs to be about conservation and renewal.

My word for the year

Until I started writing this blog post, I had forgotten about the word I set as my intention for 2014. It was "right-size" as declared in a blog post a little less than 12 months ago. I did make some steps toward right-sizing with my tiny home and de-cluttering efforts, but 2014 had its own ideas and the word it dictated for the year was heartbreak.

There are lots of contenders for 2015's word. Humility. Self-Care. Respect. Authenticity. Courage. Acceptance. But in the final analysis, I believe my word for 2015 is:

Do you have a word in mind for the year ahead? I'd love if you shared your word (or any other thoughts) in the comments below. Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2015 will be full of growth for you!

PS: If you're interested in taking Jamie's planning class, I highly recommend it! It's available until January 31, 2015. Here's the link again: "Design Your Year"

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