Just as 2009 was drawing to a close, my attention was taken by a friend’s note that she had selected three words to guide and inspire her in the coming year. It instantly resonated with me, as I reflected back on the cruel and unexpected surprises which had landed in my lap during the year.
The passing of a year is an important transition to me. As are dates. I guess I am a “remember the date” kind of girl. I attach significance to dates and can remember all sorts of fairly banal events and the date they happened. A colleague of mine mentioned yesterday that it was nearly a year since he had arrived in country. I took a few moments to think, and then corrected him. I told him that the anniversary of his arrival was actually 2 days previously. I just have that kind of memory. There was not big deal to remember his arrival, I find it easy to associate things with other events and dates stick in my mind. Heavens, I wish I could remember if I turned the gas off, or locked the front door as easily!!
So dates and years matter to me. As we leave one year behind, I always have a feeling of being able to put baggage behind me and embrace the opportunity to click the refresh button in my life as we move forward to a new year. This notion of selecting a three word mantra for the year came to me at the most perfect moment in 2009. Although I was in the thick of treatment, I desperately wanted and needed to be able to look ahead and indeed beyond the days when cancer and treatment were relentlessly dictating so much of my life. I spent almost a full day deciding which words I would select for the coming year, and had a real sense of optimism and achievement when I finally settled on my words for 2010 “Recovery, discovery and laughter”. I took delight in playing with the extra layers of meanings within these words. And more than anything else, I relished returning to these words throughout 2010 both as an affirmation as well as an incentive and encouragement.
This is how I described my words at that time:
Recovery – this is obvious. I still have months ahead of heavy duty treatment. This will be followed by long term medication and screening once (and, if we are honest, if) the oncologist and surgeon are satisfied that the breast beast has been truly banished. It also refers to mental and emotional recovery – being able to sleep at night without waking and worrying, and being hassled by the scary thoughts. And on another level, it could even refer to lovely white scalp which very much looks forward to being re-covered with real, if grey, hair!
Discovery – this has so many dimensions. Most of all, it is a great way to approach absolutely everything! There is so much to learn and discover at all levels. Professionally it is important to be continually learn and developing, especially in my role! Discovery is lovely way to view learning – exciting and bringing surprises. I am also at an early stage in life and work in our new place, and I have so much to find out. I have much to learn about the country and city we live in, and get to know our new friends. There is a real opening for spiritual development and discovery which is appealing and healing. Most of all, I want to make sure my eyes are really open to what is going on around me and to see the new and interesting in everyday life, rather than wallow in the tough stuff.
Laughter – this is probably not a surprise! Many people joked when I had my surgery, that the knife did not find wherever my sense of humour was located. Most wished it had!!! This journey has shown me over and over that I cannot change what is happening, but I am the only one who can control how I approach it. Humour is a tool for me, and a survival mechanism. Of course I have cried (diagnosis time, hair loss time and other vulnerable points which are often unexpected) but whenever I can, I try and turn the wobbles into giggles. It’s also a great excuse for truly dreadful jokes and puns so this is advance warning that 2010 will see a proactive effort to bring smiles and fun into life.
I was delighted that these words really worked for me, and i did revisit them time and time again throughout the year.
In December last year, I started thinking about selecting 3 words for 2011. It was not so easy. I had particularly liked my 2010 words. It took more time, more deliberation and to be honest a greater number of words to choose from. Finally I settled on Harmony, vitality and adventure for the following reasons:
Harmony is the main essence of how I want to see the year. It represents the need to maintain a balance in life, especially between work, health and leisure. It shows the importance I hold in keeping a space for creativity in my life. It also shows my dislike of conflict and wish for peace, in my life and in the wider world. It also has the dimension of being in harmony with my body. Much as I wish for NED I know that there are no guarantees. So no matter what the year throws at me, I intend to be at one with how I handle it physically. And in a very different vein, harmony in the musical sense shows my love of music and its importance in my life.
Vitality covers my wish to feel the full benefit of feeling well, and enjoying life to the full. In a wider sense, I feel it can also cover a broader approach to life, embracing each new day and new challenges.
I decided to pick adventure as my third word, as it also has a range of meanings which I feel will guide and inspire in the coming year. It shows that I want to push myself and reach for new experiences. If we look at its origins – (I knew learning Latin all those years ago would have a use) the word is made up of the verb to go, or move. The prefix “ad” brings the notion of forward to the motion. So adventure also represents moving forward. I most definitely intend to keep moving forward, no matter what the year throws at me.
This choice has also worked really well for me. I am still aiming for harmony, even though it is not always easy. I keep cranking forward the physical exercise machine, swimming daily before work, working out (bleurgh but it is good for me!) and paying great attention to my wellbeing. And adventure! Gosh, I have been amazed at how much I have been able to regain confidence, and have had a number of adventures through the year, including a return to field work in remote parts of the country, a trip to Chiang Mai by overnight train and my wonderful birthday holiday around the ancient Angkor temples. And now I am plotting an adventure for Christmas…….. watch this space.
So that brings me to an interesting place. If I found it hard to pick this year’s words, and went through quite a process of deliberation to arrive at the words I did. And that paid off for sure. I regularly refer to these words, both in my mind and more explicitly. And they have been the perfect fit for 2011. So now I feel that my task of finding three words for 2012 will again not be easy. However, arriving at a sense of the key areas in my life which I want to focus on and then play with the various words which can express that is in itself an inspiring exercise. It is one, which I think will take a bit more time this year. And that’s why I am starting to think about it now.