Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Work in Progress

January 1, 2014

Today marks the start of a new calendar year, but my new year actually started a couple months ago.  I had just returned from Palestine when I went on a personal retreat.  I spent a few days in Joy, one of the hermitage cabins at Cedars of Peace. I thought I'd go there and process the previous 3 months.  I thought I'd cry.

As it turns out, I wasn't ready for the processing or for much of the crying.  Thankfully, some of both have happened between then and now.  I've written already about the crying.  The growth, the lessons unfolding happen in fits and starts, often unanticipated, often with the discomfort that stretching can bring.  I am trying to be gentle with myself and let them happen when they need to.  Sometimes I am more successful with this, sometimes less.  I am better at not forcing the growth.  I am not as good at allowing it to happen when it is "inconvenient," which, of course, it very often is.

While walking on the grounds of Loretto, while looking out my cabin window, while sleeping (I was surprised at how much sleeping I did), my mind was not quick to look back, but it was ready to look forward.  For the first time in two and a half years, I was going to have a job that I'd be in for the foreseeable future.  I knew that I'd be in the country for at least six months (and now I know that I'll be around a whole year from when I came home).  I could plan with a little more certainty than I'd been able to for quite a while.
Anticipating some future-thinking, I had brought colored index cards, colored post-its, colored pens.  I wasn't quite sure how I'd use them, but I thought they might come in handy.  I had a new journal.  I wasn't ready to write in it with any color other than black.  Since then, I've had some green, some orange, some pink writing days. The post-its went untouched. The key to future-thinking seemed to be the index cards.

Green cards were my money cards (go figure).  I wrote down my new anticipated income, debts that needed to be paid, small purchases I'd like to make, larger purchases I'd soon have to make, home repairs I dreamed to make.  I've crossed a few items off the list already.  I've added others.

Orange cards had to do with writing.  Truthfully, I didn't write much more than headings on those cards. And I haven't done much writing since I've been home.  I believe that will change.  I want that to change.  Tomorrow I'll be going to my first Women Who Write meeting.  I can't wait.  Perhaps after that meeting, I'll have more for my orange cards.

Purple...dreams... If I were writing them today, I might call them resolutions.  The words on these cards include "run the mini-marathon again; marathon?" (now that I know I'll be in the country until November, I can replace the question mark with an exclamation point); "travel somewhere new within the U.S."; "talk about Palestine"; "listen to those who disagree"; "laugh." These cards contain a long list of people I'd like to share time with.  I've gotten to do so with some of the people already; many I'd still like to see.

Yellow: these are my question cards.  While I loaded information on to the other colored cards, the yellow cards contain single, very broad questions: "Spanish classes?" "CPT?" There are a few others.  I'm sure there will be more.

When I finished my future-thinking, I found a cloth pouch to put the cards in.  I carry them in my purse.  This means they are ever-present with me.  This means I can cross off an item or add an item at any moment.

This means I won't forget them.

In considering my cards and when my new year started, I offer this: today may or may not feel like a new beginning.  If it doesn't, that's OK.  Maybe your new start isn't meant to happen on January 1.  If you do feel like you're starting a new era, take some time to define what you want that era to look like, feel like, smell like, taste like, and write it down. The clearer the picture, the better.

And then, with each new day, paint a few strokes in your life to make the picture in your mind become a reality.  If you make a wrong stroke, let it dry, and paint over it.  Or maybe just let it be.  You never know what unexpected beauty it might add to the final picture... or the work in progress... because that's what we all are... beautiful works in progress.

Peace and blessings to you this New Year's Day.


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