New Year’s festivity brings both, a sense of excitement and introspection. For many years I have attached a “theme” to my intentions for the upcoming 12 months born from the reflections and lessons learned and the longings of my heart.
It begins with simple questions
- What challenges did I experience?
- What did I learn about myself and the world I inhabit?
- What would I keep and what do I need to leave behind?
- Who do I want to be?
- What remains unchanged?
Life seems to be closing a cycle and ready to begin a new one that shall be directed by ME. I have made tons of choices along the years around my preferences and ways and although I have borne the consequences, I own the fact that it is me who have allowed the interference of the outside world to limit my experience.
How? By doubting my talents and the worth of my values and purpose, by using the identity of an outcast to hide or avoid showing up outrageously and boldly with all that is mine from the bottom of my heart.
A brand New Year looks like a good reason to shift gears!
Big Black Bags (BBB)
In page layout, illustration, and sculpture, white space is often referred to as negative space. It is the portion of a page left unmarked: margins, text, figures, objects drawn, etc. White space is not merely a “blank” space, it is an important element of design that enables not only objects to exist but brings balance into the mix which is key to aesthetic composition.
This concept applies to my life on many levels, as I have developed a need for “white spaces” that extends from my mental state to the places, material and immaterial, I inhabit. “Crowded spaces” and messes make me cringe no matter where or what they are. From the fridge to my closet, living areas, or my mind, the “space between things” becomes a huge factor in providing me with ease and peace.
Throwing or giving away unused things have become second nature for me, so much that my friends avoid or call me when they are drowning in stuff. I only ask for two things: big black bags and for them to turn around! I will sort things according to my knowledge about them, the state of the stuff, and some poignant questions.
Getting rid of unused things is easier than getting rid of thoughts and beliefs. For once, I could probably buy it again, but what about ideas or plans, habits, or dreams?
Nowadays stuff piles up not only in our closet but the cyberspace. Every transaction seems to require a “sign up”, thus, we end up with tons of accounts many of which we have been used once and then forgotten. I recall when Megan became a Princess, she had to “wipe clean” her online presence. It was done professionally of course, which made me wish I could access some smart “hacker” to help me do the same! It might be just me, but I do feel the “weight” of a ghost presence in the virtual world that I have little control over.
What to keep, what to leave behind. Applying “BBB” principle to my life.
It began with having to renew a domain I have not used for years. I collect ideas (and emails accounts). My need for order is obsessive, the number of email addresses I managed- some associated with original projects, others to ongoing ideas- is ridiculous.
Career transitions and abrupt changes are common for a multipotentialite (*) or creative person. I find it easy to round up a project and let go, but when a bigger purpose is involved, I might hang onto it for more than I need to.
The domain in question is associated with an idea for education that began with a proposal for a Ph.D. It was well researched, tested, and cherished. It went through the evolution and transformation that life imposes over the best-delignated plans to end on a website that has remained dormant for a few years now.
Why am I afraid of letting it go?
I might be feeling that I will be missing out on something fundamentally important, something that others are experiencing right now – and I could too if I hang on.
It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others. Why do we choose to believe that others have it better than us – jobs, opportunities, friends, social lives, experiences, luck –is a mystery! I have seen first-hand how biased and “wrong” this perception might be more than once.
Although FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) has not led me to a compulsive desire to stay connected with others through social media, it has made me afraid of discarding projects that are no longer possible or even desirable. My mind play scenes like those in which somebody is sitting on a coin-slot machine and listens to the winning siren go nuts just after they left! All that money I spent, and the prize goes to another!
What if someone makes it big after I stop this? What if I regret it?
The idea expressed by the domain might be interesting, even beautiful, I still believe in the principles that brought it to light. However, the vehicle or medium of expression has run out of fuel. I long for more creative ways to share my voice and serve the world. I believe is time for others to take over, despite me being in the field of education for many, many years, I am done.
“Maybe this was meant to happen, this discovery of cracks where now a different, new light can shine through.”
– Author: Nina Lane
Using the following as a ‘mantra’ – If it is meant for you it will come to you… and the likes- has been helpful for me as I have seen it realized in my life.
Taking this concept at heart, was not an easy step for me, yet it started to be “real” with a simple event. I needed a dress for a concert and a high-scale wedding. As an immigrant and student, I had could spare a few bucks on it at the time. I never was one to force the hand of luck or finances despite liking to look good. I believed in my ability to make something glamorous, plus I like simple, elegant things. Those days I lived in Birmingham, AL, and there was a store dedicated to selling consignment designer clothes (clothes that people have worn once or twice). I decided to look.
There it was! The perfect dress and just my size!
Needless to say, the price was beyond my capabilities. The store though offered an interesting system in which the price tag will go down according to how many weeks it took to sell it. According to the tag, I would be able to pay a ridiculously low price if the dress was not sold in a month. I sighed and left repeating, the “mantra” above to allow my feet to move.
Surprise! 5 weeks later the dress was still there! As I was paying the lady looked at the dress, then at me and said: “wow, this dress was waiting for you! You have no idea how many wanted to buy it, but the dress did not fit or looked good on them.” They even joked about the dress not wanting to leave the store.
Believing in Myself
If I could come up with that precious idea and get a domain. I can come up with another one that fits where I am in life today. I applied the principles and structured many projects around the domain in question. I honored it. It is not a forsaken plan, is just one that changed because I changed. My values remain and my desire to inspire the world too. My heart looks upon an intimate and bolder way to be present with life, one that requires leaving behind old identities. And domains!
Farewell, the Old. Welcome the New
The person facing this New Year is dressed in the strengths and behaviors she once dreamed of making hers. After a huge investment in growth and change, I finally realized that bold action is the only thing that trumps fear and old beliefs. I have been preparing myself for this. I am old enough to understand how many things stopping me are perceptions and assumptions grown old and shabby, or worse, they were never mine!
What are a few things that helped me get here?
Changing my Focus
Rather than focusing on what I lack, I am making an effort to notice what I have. This is easier said than done on social media, which is why I am a happy social media introvert by choice. But if you enjoy it, work on identifying what may be crushing your joy and minimizing these triggers. Try customizing your feeds into something that brings more of what makes you feel good about yourself into your life.
Keeping a Journal
Journaling my best moments either online or on paper. I use photos, add color, stickers to make it fun. Rather than worrying about whether people are validating or not your experiences online. Validate them yourself! This helps with shifting our focus from public approval to a private appreciation of the things that make our life great. I am using an app to record my “tiny” achievements and add cute gifs to every entry. I cannot wait to see how much I have collected already!
Seek Out Real Connections
Feelings of loneliness or exclusion are the brain’s way of telling us that we need to increase our sense of belonging. Today we can connect with people face to face on Zoom and other apps when doing so in person is dangerous (as in covid) or impossible because of the distance. Three of my best friends and cheerleaders are amazing people I have never had the pleasure to hug (top of my list). However, we have connected and nurtured our relationship to a point of intimacy and openness that is unbelievable that we have never met face to face!
Focus on Gratitude
Telling others and yourself what you appreciate about them, and life can lift our spirits. When you are focused on the abundance you already have, it is harder to feel scarcity. I write about one thing, every day I am grateful for, even if is repetitive, or a bit, “what the heck, I need to feel the line on my gratitude calendar”. It has slowly become a habit, and somedays I am surprised by the things that come to mind I had taken for granted. And a plus, I realized how consistent I can be!
Feature Image Credit: Photo by Ann H from Pexels