The Next Right Thing…

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. ~Michelangelo

The year of empty was a year of whittling away. A year of freeing. Not the beginning. It is a work that has been going on for years. Most especially the past 5 or 6. But the chisel struck even deeper this year. It was painful at times. Disorienting. Much of what I have used to define myself has been stripped away.

I am learning to hold all things with an open hand. To find my worth outside of my abilities or accomplishments. It is a cleaner way of being. But raw, too. Exposed. Uncomfortable. Still.

As I have pondered one word to give shape to 2013, I have thought much of the story in Luke 11. A demon is cast out of a person. He roams about for a bit, comes back and finds the “house” swept clean, and brings in a whole posse of his friends so that “the final condition of that person is worse than the first”. While I am certain there is still much about me that needs to be carved away, I would also be intentional about what is permitted to enter.

Of late, I often find myself feeling as though my life is an ocean. I stand near the edge of it. Circumstances roll toward me like waves, and I am tossed about from one thing to the next like so much seaweed.

I don’t want to be seaweed.

I would be more like a buoy. Able to bend with the waves as they come, but grounded. A fixed point for those around me.

With all this in mind, one word keeps echoing in my brain.

purpose

A lofty word, this. It sounds good. I am still figuring what it looks like where the rubber meets the road. (And if this year is anything like last year, there will be plenty of surprises.) But here are some of the thoughts I have been jotting to myself on scraps of paper and rumpled napkins, and the occasional morning page…

Focus. I have only about a billion pursuits that capture my interest at any given time. Incurably curious. But, this causes me to begin, then abandon, too many projects. So one of the first action points has been to identify only a few precise goals for the coming months and shelve the rest for later.

Get. Up. Early. This is one of the more odious components of the plan. But necessary, I believe. Once the household starts buzzing, I have responsibilities to my family and others. Getting up early gives me silence and head space.

Boundaries. Because my life is mostly other centered, it is easy to completely lose myself in the lives of those I love. While it is honorable, and delightful, to care for my beloveds, there are contributions I believe I am to make to the world that require me to sometimes separate myself for a few hours of undivided attention to a project or a class or a writers group, etc… I am not good at this. So very not good. But I am putting these on the schedule. Because, what gets scheduled gets done. Right?

This is it, really. So far. If I can be faithful in this, I will be considerably less sea-weedy.

Just for kicks (and maybe a little accountability) here are some of the things I am purposing to do…

*Morning prayers. EVERY day.

*A disciplined study of ancient Church music. (at least 2 days/week)

*Become more durable; less vulnerable to injury. Run (a little) less. Significantly ramp up core work. No major running event this year. (first time in 6 years) Instead, a hike. Grand Canyon. Rim to rim. To rim. Roughly the same distance as a marathon one way. With packs. But we will give ourselves a day for each direction. Mike and I both look forward to training on the trails this year.

*A more consistent approach to the mandolin. (at least 2 days/week)

*Complete all 5 levels of Fluenz Spanish. This I am doing with my youngest, and we love it! (5 days/week)

*Write. The main reason I began blogging was to keep me accountable for writing something on a regular basis. As you might (or might not) have noticed, I have been a slacker of late. There are many (pitiful) reasons for this. And it is an exponential equation. The longer I do not write, the harder it is to resume. So, I am allying myself to a writer’s group to keep me accountable for producing some sort of content, and to receive (and hopefully give) valuable criticism. Blog posts will probably be somewhat less frequent than in the past as I focus on a couple of other writing projects. But there will likely be something here at least once a week. Please pop by every now and again. Or, better yet, subscribe and you won’t miss a thing.

How bout you? Do you make resolutions? Have you chosen one word to give shape to your year this year? I would love to hear about them.

**This post inspired by the One Word 365 project. Check out hundreds of like posts (and leave your own) here.

***The title of the post is a phrase my beautiful, wise friend, Gail, often uses when one or another of us becomes overwhelmed by a situation that is too big for us. All that is ever required of us is to do the next right thing. Thanks, Gail.