Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Look Back on Intentions

I've been thinking a lot lately about how far I've come in the past year or so.  I've decided to re-start Stratejoy's Joy Juice journal prompts from the beginning and, one of the first questions I'm journaling about asks me to examine the ways in which I'm spending my time.  I already know that the answer to this question is so telling -- how we choose/agree to spend our time says so much about our intentions in our lives and our commitments.  Do we choose to work 24/7, perhaps because we intend to have a very comfortable lifestyle that requires wealth and privilege?  Do we choose to surround ourselves with the great outdoors, maybe because we intend to live as organically and in-tune with the natural world as we can?  There are so many variations of these answers, each as revealing as the next.

A year ago, I was drowning.  I was drowning in my own lack of self-worth, my need for approval, my fear of disappointing the people I cared about.  I was desperate for something, anything, that would get me out of the situation I found myself in and, though I knew it, I was too afraid to act on the fact that all I needed was some courage.  I was spending my time doing something that made a toxic mess of my days.  I was zoning out on TV whenever I could just so I could sit and stare off into space and not have to actively participate in my own life.  I was pulling away from people, going inward, and wondering how I got there in the first place.

When I go back to those first Joy Juice prompts from a year ago, my intention was clear: I intended to suffer through every hour as the responsible, stable, dutiful girlfriend/daughter/sister/employee rather than step up and take charge of my life.

This is one of the reasons I love Stratejoy so much.  Because at the near-lowest I thought I could go, this positive corner of the internet helped me to realize that I wasn't alone, that this wasn't a new feeling, that other young women were experiencing exactly what I was experiencing, and they were making changes.  I realized that it was possible to change without my family, my relationship, my reputation, the world falling apart all around me.

Fast-forward to today.  I can barely think of a single toxic thing in my life right now.  True, I don't have a job, but my days are filled with so much, and that so much is so right, that I find it hard to complain sometimes.  I've found a passion I didn't know I had, made wonderful new friends when I thought I had no idea how to even make friends, and I'm exploring creativity in ways I've always wanted to.  I'm concentrating on my health -- all aspects of it -- and I'm giving attention to Nate and the community we've built together.  What's even better is seeing how my choices have changed, how the primary questions I ask myself now when faced with difficult decisions (like whether or not to apply for a job or take an unpaid internship or invest my time and energy into something) aren't, "How will this look?  What will so-and-so think of me?" but rather, "Is this right for me?  Is this who I am or want to be?  Will this make me happy?"

My intention in this new year was to live a fearlessly authentic life, and I think I'm living up to that well so far.

But I think there's an even greater lesson I've learned from this year of change and reacquainting myself with authenticity, and that's to accept where I've been.  I was ashamed for a long time about the person I was and the choices I made in the past few years.  I thought it showed how weak or flighty or foolish or stubborn (yes, I realize flighty and stubborn are somewhat contradictory) I was.  But I'm just not sure I think that anymore.  Without those moments, those choices, would I have ever gotten to where I am now?  Would I be moving in the right direction today if I hadn't gotten so turned around back then?  Who can really say?

Isn't it just better to acknowledge -- and maybe even celebrate -- the path that lead you to where you are?  Who are we to question the universe?

[Photo source: quote from]

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