I think 2012 may go down in my personal history as the year I learned to let go. I let go of a professional situation that wasn't working, I let go of not-so-great tradition that I had stubbornly held on to, I let go and permitted my daughter to go away to school in the eleventh grade (wow--hard one), I let go of some of my need for planning, and I let go of some personal and physical baggage that weighed me down.
Do you know what I learned from letting go? That I should have let go of ALL THOSE THINGS sooner, with more confidence, and without any of the stress that accompanied it. I should have TRUSTED MY INSTINCTS from the beginning.
And I learned that I will be letting go MORE. I look back on most of those decisions, and I don't know why they were even a decision! But I agonized over each one. Now, it is SO clear and obvious that letting go was the right thing to do, that I can't even remember why I hesitated. Which leads me to what I HOPE to learn in 2013.
But then I heard a bit of a talk yesterday on talk radio. Oprah's soul series this month is led by PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE author and pastor, Rick Warren. He said something very interesting last night. I only heard a tiny bit of the show, but this one thing made quite an impression. He said that life changes don't work until we re-set our AUTOMATIC PILOT. Rather than get into the Automatic Pilot analogy, I'm going to take his point and explain it a little differently. I'm going to use the phrase DUE NORTH.
When we get lost, we look at our compass (or GPS) for DUE NORTH, right? Because once we know where NORTH is, then we can find out way. All our old habits, whether physical habits like eating half a pack of Oreos during Downton Abbey each week (hypothetical, of course) or mental habits (like saying to yourself, I knew that story was going to be rejected) have become our DUE NORTH. When something throws us off balance, we go for that DUE NORTH. It's human nature. So I may have set a resolution of no more Oreos and no more negative thinking about my writing, but the first time something 'throws' me, my instinct will be to go to my DUE NORTH, which, you'll remember, is Oreos and negative thinking. Sometimes we are half-way through that creamy filling or head-shaking self-analysis before we even know that we've lapsed. You know why? Because DUE NORTH feels more like home than these new resolutions.
So here's what we have to do, according to Rick Warren. We have to CHANGE OUR DUE NORTH (or AUTOMATIC PILOT, as he says it). We have to actively go to, say, SOUTH (instead of North), so often and so intentionally and so regularly that it becomes our new norm. How interesting and logical. So I'm working on that. I'll let you know how it goes. I'm SURE I will be successful (see, that's my new DUE SOUTH, I'm SURE I will be successful)
A while back I wrote about an amazing book, THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS by Laura Munson. This book is a must-read for anyone who is a writer and/or who is married. It is part writer struggle and part wife struggle and all lovely, well-written, compelling, and potentially life-changing. On her blog this month (www.lauramunson.com then click on her blog), she is promoting the idea of community with guest blog posts. Mine was selected to be on there this week, starting yesterday, so CHECK IT OUT! Mine is Long Ago: Community Entry #2. I would highly recommend that you continue to follow her blog if you are a writer or a human. Great stuff. And if you haven't read the book I mentioned above, you must.
My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.