A New Dawn, A New Day, A New Year…

by The Freelance Dilettante

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Okay, so it’s eight days into 2014, and I’m blogging after a wee hiatus of OMG SIX MONTHS. Time flies when you’re procrastinating and/or avoiding.

By now, a lot of people are either going crazy fulfilling New Year’s resolutions (it hurts so gooood!) or beating themselves up because they’ve already fallen by the wayside (it feels so baaaaad!) Well,  I’m giving myself a break: there’s always next year..

I’m not much for New Year’s Resolutions. When they fizzle out, I am left feeling defeated, like a failure. So, about 15 years ago, I have up NYRs for what I call “Ongoing Goals.” Many of these have been on my list for many years. Many have shown progress, some, not so much.  Nearly every year (excepting the years I totally blew them off) the list is updated. Since it is now 2014, I have 14 on the list. I may add one each year. I may not. The list can get unwieldily once you creep into the twenties. Nonetheless,  Here are my Ongoing Goals, put forth for your entertainment (or scorn, if you’d rather be scorning something. Cool word, “scorn.”):

1. Beauty and Order
I will do my best to instill beauty and order in my life, to maintain a clean and inviting home, to purge excess clutter, to choose my possessions using the mantra “Is it meaningful? Is it useful? Is it beautiful?” Also I will accept that even if something is most or all of those things, if it doesn’t have a proper place, it would be happier belonging to someone who would love and appreciate it as it deserves.

2. Happiness
I will accept that I am not responsible for anyone’s happiness but my own. I can not make anyone else happy, and no one else is responsible for my happiness. They are not duty-bound to make me happy. I will work on fostering my own happiness by counting my blessings, doing things that are fun and adventurous, and seeking support and encouragement when needed from people able and willing to give it. I will do my best to encourage others with my compassion, empathy, love, and kindness, without any expectations for the outcome.

3. Co-Dependent No More
I will no longer be “nice” to my own detriment. I will set solid boundaries for myself and others and realize that I am not obligated to explain, defend, or justify them. I will say no or yes as I see fit, and accept responsibility for my own choices and actions. I will not allow myself to be used or abused.

4. Acceptance
I will accept that my destiny is my own to create. I will accept that there is positive and negative in my life. I will embrace the blessings and do what I can to change or acknowledge and accept the challenges. I will meet people where they are, and accept that they have differing points of view, and that I can care for someone even when they disagree. I can accept the fact that there are certain people who do not belong in my life, and let go of the anxiety that someone may not like or care about me.  I can accept honest criticism about my actions or behaviors, and listen without knee-jerk defensive reactions. I can accept responsibility when necessary, and stand my ground if need be. I can accept myself as a flawed-yet-perfectly good being, developing, learning and growing as I go.

5. Creativity
I will nurture and express my innate creativity, spirit, and intelligence in a variety of ways. I will seek ways to do this through creating art, writing, reading, introspecting, learning, working, adventuring and experiencing the world. I will share my creativity with others joyfully. I will make time to do this, and live in the moment as I create, immersing myself in the process.

6. Connection
I will make new friends, as well as keep in contact with my present friends. I will, when possible, make an effort to reconnect with people who have been meaningful in my life, without expectations regarding the outcome. I will take time to socialize with people in real life, and visit as many of my friends as I can. I will work towards the goal of meeting all of my internet friends in person. I will send personal notes, letters, cards, and packages to people with no expectation of return.

7. Devotion
I will nurture my relationship with God/dess in all of his/her forms which speak to me. I will spend time in devotion, mediation, vigil, prayer, and ritual. I will attend temple and circle when possible. I will reach out through my anxieties and fears to meet people of like mind, and will look for God/dess in the eyes of every person I meet. I will read spiritual materials, and work on wending my way through the spiritual wilderness. I will accept any challenge that brings me closer to God/dess, whether it be sacrifice, pilgrimage, periods of specific spiritual devotion or practice, observance of holy days, etc.

8. Compassion and Empathy
I will do my best to have compassion for all people, even those whose behavior and opinions are distasteful to me. I will recognize that having compassion for someone does not mean you have to agree with them or have them as an active part of your life. I will also practice empathy, refusing to dismiss or minimize the feelings of others, simply because I feel uncomfortable. This includes being open to confronting my own prejudices or actions that hurt or wound others without defensiveness (see Acceptance).

9. Activism
I will pursue and educate myself about issues for which I feel strongly. I will stand up for these issues, and fight for justice and equality for all people. I will choose a few to defend passionately, and will support others’ work towards their pet causes. I will focus my attention on what I feel are pressing issues. For me these are education, especially women’s education, eradicating sexism (rape culture, shaming, etc.),  and female empowerment (especially for young girls and those living in poverty.) I will lend my voice to all work for justice.

10. Health
I will do what I can to develop and maintain my physical, emotional, and mental health. I will find healthy ways to get my needs met. I will seek support and help when I need it. I will move my body and nourish it. I will nurture and respect myself in every aspect. I will have compassion for myself when I am not as strong as I wish to be.

11. Detachment
I will work towards compassionate, loving detachment from outcomes and expectations which cause distress and dissonance when not met. I will work on forgiveness and letting go of old hurts, grudges, and blame.

12. Adventure
I will seek and accept the call to new adventures, big and small. I will step fearlessly into the future. If I can’t do that, I will face my fears, and step forward with courage instead.

13. Service
I will give of my time, energy, and money in service to causes I care about. Although I can’t support every cause, I will choose one to three charitable organizations to give to every year.  The ones I am currently committed to are sponsoring a child in India, supporting the Alumnae scholarship fund at my high school  (both supporting the cause of women’s education and empowerment, as well as poverty), and choosing a cancer research organization every year in memory of my nephew Liam.

14 Random Acts of Kindness and Beauty
I will do nice things for random people at random times without expectation of gratitude or return favors. I would also like to participate in public art, or do something beautiful for others to enjoy.

Lofty goals, yes, butI have the rest of my life to work on these, and a lot less pressure than if I was telling myself I should be working on these at all times, because I’m a big fat loser if I’m not perfect by December 31. Of course, being a procrastinator of the highest degree, there is certainly a chance that I could make no progress at all, but its not likely.  Progress happens, even if sometimes it feels as if it’s by accident.

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