This is the week that the world will be off and running with good intentions to change. The gym will be crowded. Organization tubs will be purchased. Lists will be made. Refrigerators will be cleaned out and healthier fare will replace all the holiday goodies that were there just a week before. We'll all be searching for the better form of ourselves. It is in these first weeks of a new year I often hear people talk about a quest to find balance: a harmony between the many hats we each wear in this life. Many years ago I too sought balance, but as life marched on I began to realize that the best things happened when life was, quite honestly, a bit out of balance. Can too much balance result in missed opportunities? In our search for balance, we have to be judicious in our no's, be careful of our essential choices, but we can't overlook opportunities.
One Little Word
About two weeks ago, I heard a podcast ( A Little Happier: What's Your One Word Theme for the New Year with Gretchen Rubin) about finding your one word so I started looking for my word to guide me through 2017. This advanced notice was appreciated as I like my word to "find" me, and it hasn't always happened quickly. As words found their way into my days, I began to make a list and --- this won't surprise anyone --- it was a long one. I had several words I wanted to consider for my new year. I narrowed the list to five and then to three, trying each word on for a day or two.
The quest for a new word is never easy, but always worth the effort. Having never been someone who does well with resolutions, I've enjoyed having one new word to shape my journey for the last few years. I've found one word or phrase to be easy to remember, applicable across contexts, and helpful in my continued steps forward. Here are the words or phrases I have selected in the past:
To find my word, I needed to reflect on the previous year. In 2016, a few things happened that probably have made me look at my life map with a greater pause. First of all, I celebrated a big --- okay, really big --- birthday. All of my friends told me that "at our age (the one where they send you an AARP card)" we finally have it all together, we can say what we want, we are sailing. Oh, how I wish there were truth in their statement. I'm finding quite the opposite to be true. The new lessons from a big birthday, a new position as our district's elementary literacy instructional leader, a flood in our basement, and my children's continued steps forward in their own lives, have made me reconsider all that is possible. As Mary Oliver asks, "Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" We may only have "one wild and precious life," but we can constantly reinvent it or change its course.
Truthfully, I've really never been one to feel I have it all figured out. I consider that a gift. It helps me to continually think about what might be possible next. This new decade feels quite similar to life in my 20s where there was so much to figure out; so many new possibilities ahead. It's probably this search that soon led me to my word. As I pondered new word possibilities, I found I kept coming back to a word I heard in November. It was a word I first heard from Christine Arylo when her Positively Positive's post came up in my Feed.ly account: Are You Feeling Stretched?.
"Every person I know who is awake, open-hearted, and desiring to live their greatest life, in alignment with their soul, is being called to their 'edge' - personally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically." --- Christine Arylo
Seek the Soul Stretch
There was something about the word "stretch" that I appreciated. A stretch seems better than balance to me. Balance makes me feel like I'm trying to control chaos, but a stretch feels like I'm reaching for something that will move me to a better place. A stretch isn't outside of our limits, but pushes us toward new horizons. A stretch says it might be hard, it might even be something life has just sent our way, but it is something we can do. Christine's advice, "Lean into the stretch and grow, breakthrough limits and old ways that no longer serve and eventually soar and reach deeper levels of strength and faith and expression." In 2017, I hope to seek the soul stretch. It's only in the stretch we can continue to grow.