The Slow Yoga Series will continue. But for now…
A funny thing happened on my way to the New Year. A friend gave me a gift card to a book store (yum). I usually have a robust wish list just waiting for such a windfall but instead of going straight to my wish list to load up with purchases I took some time to consider what would feel most like a gift. I passed up the new novel from my favorite author. I passed up the new novel from my favorite blogger. I chose instead The Desire Map, a workbook book written by Danielle Laporte. I’ve been a follower of Danielle’s in social media for years now so I already had an idea of her platform. She doesn’t sell crap and she’s not pretentious. Plus, she gave me a free app for Christmas. Let’s dance.
I approached with an open mind. And an open heart. I downloaded The Desire Map to my e-reader, opened it, and devoured a third of it in one day. I say again, it’s a workbook. It required work. Did I really give myself the gift of work on behalf of my friend? Yup. I did that. I had to grab a spiral-bound notebook and work my way through it, answering questions and making lists. I began the work during the week of Christmas, finishing up on New Year’s Day. Not my plan at all. After my second day of this work I got online and ordered a new Book of Me, also one of Danielle’s offerings. On January 2nd my new Book of Me arrived and my kindred bloggers began announcing their Words of the Year.
(For readers unfamiliar with the Book of Me, it’s my fancy name for a monthly planner).
I held the Book of Me in my hands, fresh off my exercises from The Desire Map in which I was asked to make a short list (three to five words) that most accurately describe how I want to feel as I move through this world. Verbose to a fault, I pared down a list of over 25 words. Many of those words were redundant in meaning or resembled similar ideals, so in the end the winning word was representative of several words.
For example, I was challenged to choose one word to describe how I wanted to feel relative to my body and my wellness. In my body I want to feel whole, supple, sensual, comfortable, and I want to feel pleasure. I had to choose one word that represents all of that, which was a formidable task. I chose the word Splendid.
I had to do this five more times, once for each of what Danielle calls the five key areas of life:
- Body + Wellness
- Lifestyle + Livelihood
- Creativity + Learning
- Essence + Spirituality
- Relationships + Society
So for each of these areas, five feeling words, and then all of those represented by one word. Seriously folks, this was work. The process to generate all these words from within produced some fascinating insights. My answers off-the-cuff were very different from the answers teased out during the work. After writing out all my responses to the workbook prompts I went back through my notes and found patterns. I found the same words showing up over and over again. If not the same words, words that pointed to similar desires or feelings. This served to distill pages and pages of blabber. That Danielle, she can distill the hell of out the things–all the things.
Yes, it was work but I flat-out loved it. It cut through all the bullshit. More importantly, it pulled me away from writing what I thought would sound good to other people. Best of all, it put me in a place where I was ready to make plans that align with what Danielle calls my core desires. This is why cutting through all the bullshit felt so magical, because the point was to learn to make choices that support how I really want to feel—what I really want—as opposed to choices that sounded good. What would actually feel good, or at least, feel good for me?
It threw an even brighter light on the same issue with which I’ve struggled for several years now—setting very good, very admirable goals for all the wrong reasons. It highlighted the ways I’m still aligning my choices with habits that underscore all that I lack, all that’s not good enough, all that’s not worthy of esteem and affection without an achievement that means I earned it. Because an achievement means I really deserve it; I’m honestly entitled to it, right? Sprinkles are for winners, right? Validation. Justification. Yeah, none of those things align with how I really want to feel in life.
Another big one: I definitely don’t spend my money in alignment with how I really want to feel. Yes, I’m owning the fact that it took a workbook to point that out to me, but I’ve decided it doesn’t matter how the lightbulb came on; it’s what I do in the light that matters. The Lifestyle + Livelihood category covers money and career. In my work and in my relationship to money I want to feel worthy, strong, entitled, powerful and deserving. One word to represent all that? Empowered.
The practicality of this hit home as I continued to hone the list down to the truest truth. Why would I continue to make choices that underscore my need when needy is exactly the opposite of how I want to feel? Rather than simply resolve not to do that anymore, the idea is to replace those choices with new ones; with choices that support what I do want. My task is then to every week plan the work, the spending, the exercise, the conversations, the activities, etc. that put me (or keep me) in alignment with how I really want to feel. Simple as it sounds, this felt revolutionary. Perhaps I just needed someone to break it down for me, workbook style.
The fact that all this happened during the week between Christmas and the new year? Excellent timing. The fact that all this happened so close on the heels of my failure to meet 2015’s goals (for the THIRD year in a row)? Doesn’t really feel like a coincidence. On the heels of an injury sustained in pursuit of those goals? Therapeutic. It made me feel better. Poised. Resolved. Rehabilitated. It didn’t make-over my life (yet, it’s a practice) but it did adjust the perception of my position/title/role in my life. I feel more like the visionary of my life rather than the respondent. Instead of a reactionary position I feel more instrumental. I feel more Invictus. More Captain of my Soul. So the work worked.
I thought after all of this work that I wouldn’t bother with a Word of the Year because I have so many other words now. I’m fully vested in the practice of aligning with my Big Five rep words (the core desires), so I decided I’d better get this written before the new year isn’t so new anymore. And then there it was, waiting in the writing, patiently showing up again and again until I noticed.
Happy New Year, y’all.