Hello and welcome to Friday, December 27, 2019! This is a rare and precious day that will never come again.
This year, and decade, are swiftly coming to an end. And with each ending, there is a new beginning. Anymore, I don’t really think about time in this way – I feel it’s more non-linear. But that is a different topic. This changing of the calendar is, nonetheless, an invitation, a convenient moment to pause, reflect, and consider the future.
As I look back over the last ten years, I’m amazed by how much has happened not only to me, but within me.
Ten years ago, I did not imagine that I would earn three degrees and move from my place of origin to Oregon; I had no idea that I would bury a nephew, a dear friend and mentor, and five furry four-legged family members; I did not foresee selling my mother’s house and admitting her into an a memory care facility; I would not have believed it if you told me I would work for the National Park Service, teach as a graduate student, drive school buses and become certified as a Life Coach and a Mindful Life Program instructor. There is no way that I could have foreseen that I would someday create the Turning Leaf Foundation. I had no idea that I would cross paths with an incredible lady friend and develop a deeply intimate relationship with her. I had no idea that I would move from Corvallis to Monmouth and live with this most wonderful lady. I never could have imagined that, only months after moving in together, she would move to China to teach English. These are all things that have largely happened to me. Some were intentional, some unintentional and some seem to have happened by chance. None of them were foreseeable.
Even more astonishing than this decade’s outward changes is what has happened within me.
Over the last ten years, through following suggestions, a program of recovery, and a daily mindfulness practice, I have discovered the power of acceptance and forgiveness; I’ve learned patience; I no longer feel lonely in a crowd or within my own mind; I’ve learned not only to like myself, but to love myself; I learned empathy and compassion, I learned to be vulnerable and I learned how to surrender and let go. I learned how to identify and define my values and what it takes to apply them in my life. And, and this is a big ‘AND,’ I have experienced peace of mind and contentment. No, really: contentment! If someone had told me ten years ago that I would know contentment, I would have laughed with bitter incredulity. Finally, I never ever could have imagined ten years ago that a sober life could be so meaningful, rich and rewarding!
Reflecting on the ten years prior to this last decade, I went through equally significant changes. The same is true with the decade before that! I don’t even need to look at an entire decade to see significant changes that happen over time. Simply looking at the last year is a profound lesson in change. And the year before that. Huge changes. Again, some intentional, some unintentional, and some seemingly by chance.
I feel it’s so incredibly important to frequently reflect on our lives. Not just to list the changes as I’ve done here, but to also ask ourselves if these changes have benefitted our life and the lives of those around us. What I listed above were most definitely positive changes. This is not to say there weren’t some choices that brought about unbeneficial results. Trust me: there were. In privacy and with the help of those I trust, I examined these unbeneficial situations and learned from them, rendering them in this way both beneficial and useful! I simply chose not to share all the ghastly details in this letter.
In reflection, I see how I’m changing all the time. So, if I’m going to change, in the situations that don’t come about by fate or happenstance (I don’t know how this stuff works?), do I want to change out of habit, or intentionally?
Reflecting on my past, I see that many of my choices were made out of habit – mostly fear, from a place of “what do “they” want me to do?”; from a place of safety and comfort (inside the box); from a place of greed and selfishness.
Moving forward, I see it is obvious that I can’t control many things that will happen to me – it’s simply the nature of life. I can, nevertheless, move forward with intention. Having done this Mindfulness work for some time meow, I know what’s important to me and what kind of person I want to be. I’m honestly not all that clear about what I want to do with my one wild and precious life. That said, this decade has taught me to be less concerned with doing and more interested in being, I have some tension with this dichotomy – I need to make a living. I also have faith. More will be revealed.
My suggestion as we approach the new year: reflect on your life, objectively. Look closely (and compassionately) at the areas in which you’re thriving and the areas in which you can improve. Set intentions that are in alignment with your values, as you define them. Then, do your best – and you always do, whether you believe it or not. Identify the obstacles that prevent you from being the person that you want to be. And remember that you need not wait for a new year, or decade, to start over. Each moment is a new moment in which you can start anew.
I love you and there isn’t anything you can do about it!
There are multiple Mindfulness-based opportunities starting in the new year. If this interests you, please explore my website: www.turningleaffoundation.com
Please contribute to the Turning Leaf Foundation.
If you would like to help bring Mindfulness to the less fortunate and to help pay for current services, your generosity will be deeply appreciated.