12 for 2012: part 1

Ah, it’s the first week of a new year.

 Hurrah! From the title, you might think this will be my list of resolutions for the year. Allow me to clarify, it is not.  First of all, I have mixed feelings about making promises to myself in such a pressure oriented, all or nothing, atmosphere as New Years.  Secondly, even if such a list did exist, I’m not sure I would have the heart to post them in a public forum.  Sorry. What this is, however, are twelve of the ideas and concepts that I have stumbled into in the last year and found intriguing.  I’ve read them in books or blogs, I’ve heard them on the Telly or in films; but regardless of where I’ve picked them up, these little gems got me thinking about what I want to incorporated into my authentic self. You won’t find much in this list that should, or could, be done in an all or nothing, resolution kind of way. However, given the chance I believe these little tidbits have made, and will continue to make, my life just a little bit more exquisite, one little piece at a time.  Or perhaps as Anne Lamott would say, Bird by Bird.

1. Leave Things Better Than You Found Them

I read those words in a blog a few weeks ago and I really liked them.  The blog was applying the idea to relationships, specifically dating relationships that don’t work out.  The idea was, that instead of burning bridges and leaving people torn up and feeling low, leave them with the good stuff; leave them encouraged (or at least as encouraged as possible).  Don’t fall prey to the tendency of  needing to demolish their character to shreds with all your girlfriends or dude friends, just to make yourself feel better.  The knowledge that it didn’t work out, doesn’t make them a horrible human being, and chances are, they have some good stuff worth noting, that attracted you to them in the first place; leave them with that, and not all the bad stuff.  Amusingly, as I was thinking about this later I realized that this is closely akin to an old housekeeping trick my mum taught me.  She used to tell my sister and me to pick up something and put it away every time we left a room. That way you don’t end up with a landslide of clutter at the end of the week.  It made me start thinking, what if each time, be it in the big things or the little things, I were to leave them better? Be it a room, a town, a relationship, what if I made sure I picked up, made peace, gave encouragement and bestowed blessings? What would my life, my house, and the people in my life be like, if I always tried to leave things just a little bit better than I found them?

2. Life is a Daring Adventure or Nothing

Helen Keller said this these words:
Security is mostly a superstition.  It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.  Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
I’ve reviewed these words quite a bit this year, finding both considerable comfort and challenge in the admonition.  You would think that it was self-evident; we’ve all seen countries, people, financial markets and relationships fall apart. Places and institutions that we thought we could trust have been exposed as flimsy and insecure. Yet, I  frequently find myself hiding out in ‘safe’ and ‘secure’ places.  I don’t think Helen Keller was advocating reckless stupidity, however I think she was reminding us that secure isn’t a reality in this life.  When it comes to a choice between following the Spirit of Truth, verses staying someplace that seems secure?  Remind yourself security doesn’t exist–life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.

3. Everyone needs to feel that they’re loved, needed and cared about.

I just wrote quite a bit about this idea recently.  This quote really made an impression on me though.  I took it from the wise words of Pa Ingalls, in Little House on the Prairie.  Most of us realize the truth in those words, somewhere down inside of our hearts.  Yet, when we think we might love someone else more than they love us, we tend to slink back and try to act like we were really disinterested.  We really are silly beings, we humans.  We seek security (which doesn’t exist) while faining indifference to those we love.  So it’s good to remember, everyone needs to feel that they’re loved, needed and cared about–and it’s really ok to be the one who says so first.  Show it, say it, and fess up to having a heart.  Besides, you never know, your words might make all the difference in the world.

4. A Writer is someone who Writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

Captain obvious.  This is actually the title to one of Regina Brett’s chapters in the book ‘God Never Blinks.’  And yes, it’s really obvious, but I think I need to hear it at least once a day.  If there’s something that you’re dreaming about and talking about doing,  frequently the next obvious step is to actually do it.  It’s not always writing, but there’s usually something; something that is much easier to talk about, dream about, whine about, plan, scheme and procrastinate, than actually do.  So here’s the secret.  To get something done, you have to do it.  Don’t just be a noun, be a verb and take action.

5. Choose Life.

So, not actually a political statement in this case.  Thing is, before it was a political slogan, it was in the Bible.  God is talking to the Israelites and he tells them he’s putting before them two choices, life and death.  And then, in case anyone is confused, he gives the answer; choose life.  I am finding that it’s amazing how many decisions can be simplified if I ask myself a question along these lines ‘will such and such promote life, or death?’ Silly example: Should I only eat junk food for the rest of my life instead of eating a balanced diet? Hmmm, will it promote life, or death? Choose life.  It works for choosing food, words, activities and more.  Things begin to come into focus when we can simplify and clarify what it is we’re choosing–and not everything–but many things lean towards one direction or the other.  Life or death.  They either make your life more exquisite, beautiful and healthful, or they corrupt, eat way at, destroy or possibly just diminish and distract.  But when you can look at it in simple terms, the answer is obvious.  Choose life.

6. This is the Day—today.

I think this was an idea that came from Joyce Meyer’s teaching.  She was talking about affirmations she said each day.  One was, ‘This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.’  I rarely have a problem rejoicing in tomorrow’s possibilities, or yesterday’s successes.  It’s today, right now, this day that I usually have a hard time staying focused on.  I think that’s why I’ve found that meditation such a wonderful addition to my own repertoire of morning affirmations.  Before my feet even graze the floor, before all the corruptible deficiencies of life creep into my mind, a reminder that this is the day.  I have this day, not tomorrow, and never again yesterday, just today.  And so if I’m going to have any chance at happiness and joy, and living an exquisite life, it will have to begin in this moment and in this day.  Right now in the present, is the day the Lord has made, right now in the present I will rejoice and be thankful.  This is the day, today.