Three Words for 2015

Light Flare by 3BLuke via DeviantArt. Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
Light Flare by 3BLuke via DeviantArt. Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

When I read Robin Mohr’s post about her choice of three words to shape 2015, it got me thinking and writing. Drawing upon a meme referenced by Chris Brogan, the idea is to reflect and then choose three juicy words that will have the power to focus, inspire, and guide one’s actions (and thoughts and words and LIFE) for the coming year. It seemed a little daunting at first. I have many, many words – how to narrow it down to just three? However, when I became still for a few minutes, the words emerged quite easily. They are:

LIGHT. INTEGRATION. ALLOWING.

All righty, then! Those three words are a kind of personal shorthand, but full of richness for the unpacking. Here follows sort of a word salad of free association. I have only the vaguest notion at this moment what each of these words will look like day to day in 2015. Nevertheless, I share in hopes that you’ll be inspired to come up with your own three words.

LIGHT. Quakers are all about The Light. Holding The Light for people, holding them IN The Light, and ourselves as well. Bringing light to darkness or confusion. The Light is also “that of God in every one,” that essence which can be answered, responded to, and engaged, as the highest and best attributes of ourselves can connect, learn from each other, and perhaps even love one another. EnLIGHTenment, akin to awareness, the Light switching on, like a lightbulb flashing, cartoon-like, over one’s head. Aha! Full-spectrum, waves and particles, speed of LIGHT. And LIGHTness: humor, agility, cheerfulness. “His yoke is easy, and his burden is LIGHT.” How might I embody The Light, be guided by The Light, and share more Light with my clients, friends, family, community?

INTEGRATION. When disparate elements of a system are integrated, they function as a harmonious whole. Integration contains within it “Integrity,” perhaps the core Quaker testimony. The notion of harmony – elements (or people) working together in an aesthetically pleasing way – may bring a gracefulness to my relationships and everyday interactions. The elements remain distinct, retaining their own uniqueness, yet a synergy occurs where “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” How might I recognize opportunities to include those who have been excluded? How can I support the integrity of others as I live into my own?

ALLOWING. It has to do with letting things happen, rather than making things happen. Let things unfold naturally, organically, as they will, without interfering or inserting another agenda. Let people and things be exactly as I find them. The I Ching lists among desirable character traits equanimity, acceptance, and non-judgment. See what IS, before reflexively leaping in to “help.” Ask more questions, be open, seek to understand instead of just to learn. How can I be more present in each moment, and accept the gifts contained therein?

I feel excited to have this template. The words are a compass, not a map. I don’t know the territory yet, but I now have a way to orient as the landscape of 2015 is revealed.

Wanna play? Share your Three Words for 2015 in the comments.

 

Today’s Quote: Saint Francis de Sales

Slow on Road“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”  — Saint Francis de Sales (1567 – 1662) via BrainyQuote.com

This sounds a lot like Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais (1904 – 1984), who would often direct his students to move quickly, but without hurrying. What does that even mean? At first hearing, it seems like a zen koan, one of those paradoxes that leaves you scratching your head and no closer to enlightenment. But as I practiced the Feldenkrais Method, I experienced what he was talking about. Beyond teaching people to notice when their muscles contracted in uncomfortable and inefficient patterns, he was also teaching a way to find peace of mind. He taught that straining, hurrying, or over-reaching are signs that we’re being driven by some unconscious notion – or habit – that has nothing to do with being present in the moment. One might say that our ego takes over, and achieving our goal becomes more important than the way we get there.

Saint Francis de Sales, a Roman Catholic mystic during the early years of the Protestant Reformation, recommends a practice of mindfulness when he says, “. . .do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.” When “the whole world seems upset,” in any moment, his solution is to return to the spaciousness and peacefulness of a quiet and calm mind and spirit. My common first reaction is to want the upset to be solved immediately. When I try to “muscle my way” to a solution, my ego is in charge, and even more difficulty ensues. To act from a quiet and calm mind takes a lot of practice!

Saint Francis de Sales makes it sound very simple. But I have the sense that he knew such a practice would not be easy. I think he knew the world would always seem upset, in countless small and large ways. I imagine that he spent a lot of time in stillness, waiting with a quiet and calm spirit for guidance from the still, small voice within.

The Christmas Elephants (in the room)

Image via iStockphoto
Image via iStockphoto

I’m deeply moved by this blog post from Krista Tippett, the host of the radio program “On Being.” It is full of resonance and truth-telling.
Why I Don’t Do Christmas

Reflections on what I call “the Christmas Elephants” of commercialism, compulsive busyness, excess, and comfortable sentimentalism are always prickly. She has helped me to reflect further on the larger meanings of the coming of Light into the world, and how I might bring more light to the New Year.

How about you?

Random Gratitude

Today, I stopped in for a quick breakfast taco at Chacho’s on Westheimer.  The tacos are served piping hot, and they make mine with beans and potatoes on corn tortillas. They have a killer habañero salsa
that will perk up your attitude but fast.

After I had placed my order with one employee, another one, a man, greeted me. “Hello, Young Lady! How are you doing today?”

OK – I am keenly aware that I will be 60 years old soon. I am also keenly aware that “age is just a number” and I am indeed fortunate to be healthy, mobile, and young at heart. I smiled at the man and said, “Fine, thanks. How are you doing?” But for a moment, I thought: Oh. My. God. To this we’ve come. Nice young men are now calling me “Young Lady.”

I continued to smile, however, as I realized that being called “Young Lady” is highly preferable to having been called “You Old Bat.” I giggled to myself.

My advice is: when making your gratitude list, lower your standards! I guess I have a really low “appreciation threshold,” because it takes very little to send me into deep thankfulness. I’m grateful that I have a sense of humor, and that I can accept intended kindness from other people without being overly dramatic. Maybe just a little dramatic. Gentle humor, with oneself and others, is useful as one practices simplicity. So many personal conflicts and internal upsets can be avoided by simply taking a breath and a moment to appreciate the humor in a situation.

Television and online outlets are full of pundits who make their careers out of being professionally outraged and offended.  Whether someone calls you “Young Lady” or wishes you “Happy Holidays” instead of a more specific greeting, it’s so lovely and simple to just be happy that someone, somewhere, meant to be nice.
What are you simply grateful for today?