The start of a new year always feels invigorating to me. Kind of like staring at a blank canvas. Such promise. So many possibilities.
At first that is. Then with the third or fourth wet, grey, cold day comes the sobering realization that there are still two months of winter left. I’m trying to make peace with winter, but I can’t help yearning for spring. I used to grit my teeth and settle into endurance mode: Powering through and grinding it out. All thoughts of lightness and fun thrown right out the window. Putting them on hold until spring defrosts them.
That was the old way though. As I wrote last time, it is my firm intention to make this my year of light. I can’t force spring to come, but I can invite a spring in my step by releasing heaviness whenever I can and be light about it all.
The question is: how to keep it light when it’s still dark outside? How do I invite light when I’m exhausted and my feelings match the grey bleakness of the weather?
Forcing it doesn’t work. (Believe me, I’ve tried.) Forcing lightness when you’re feeling burned out or frustrated isn’t light at all. But I discovered I can lean in the direction of it, like a flower leans towards the sun. So that is my focus this year: to lean towards the light.
So what does that mean?
What does it look like to lean towards the light?
To be light?
Light means to release heaviness (as I wrote about in last week’s post). To shed the weight of should’s and other rules I made up.
Light means releasing myself of the burden of my own expectations, the impossible standard I hold myself to.
Instead, to be easy on myself and lower the bar.
It means to come FROM a sense of enoughness rather than endlessly striving for it, never quite reaching it.
Light means to move WITH the flow of life rather than against it. To stop walking as fast I can and wanting or rather demanding of myself to do everything as soon as possible. Returning to a slower, more natural rhythm honors the wisdom of my body. Slowing down not only feels gentler on my body, but surprisingly, on my mind as well.
Light means taking myself and life way less seriously. Be easier about it all. Chill. To laugh more, especially at myself. In other words: I need to lighten up!
Light means doing more of what I love. Do things that light me up. Make joy a priority. Have way more fun. Play. Sing. Dance. Go to the movies. Hang out with friends. Create things for no other reason than the pure joy of creating. It means finding light in the simplest things. Even a brief interaction with a stranger on the street brightens my day.
Doing or even just planning fun things can be great. But sometimes “fun” seems like a tall order. The reality is that I spend most of my time alone, needing lots of rest. Instead of letting that get to me I ask myself:
What feels light right now? What would light me up? What would feel good?
Or just: What would feel better?
Asking myself what feels better
is a gentle way to lean towards the light.
The other day for instance I had planned to exercise, then write according to my newly devised daily schedule. Unfortunately I woke up with energy really low. I could grind it out as usual and do it anyway, but that didn’t feel light to me. Instead I lovingly released my plans and gave my body the rest it needed and took a bath. My body still felt heavy, but emotionally it felt light.
Tuning into how I feel is important. Sometimes I get into a funk, frustrated by the limitations of my body. Craving connection when needing time to recharge by myself. That funk is an indication I’m focusing too much on what isn’t working, a GPS-like signal telling me I’m headed the wrong way. I learned I can turn myself in the right direction again by paying more attention on what is working, what does feel right.
That inevitably brings back the light.
In other words:
Light means gently reaching for the best feeling thought I can find. “I’m exhausted and I already need to quit my new plan of writing every day”, feels bad. “I’m giving my body the rest it needs now so I can write again later” feels a lot better.
I can feel powerless and at the mercy of life’s circumstances, or I can feel empowered by CHOOSING how I respond to those circumstances.
While feeling good and gently reaching for the best feeling I can find is my top priority, it serves me to remember that sometimes the lightest thing to do is to let the heaviness be. To let myself have a bad day. Let myself be frustrated, disappointed or angry. This was never about controling life, forcing light. As I said, I want to move with the flow. Resistance is like swimming upstream. Allowing everything to be as it is, is downstream.
After all, sometimes life does present you with situations that aren’t light at all. Forcing yourself to pretend they are isn’t light. In fact, that makes things unnecessarily heavy.
So lastly, but most importantly:
Light means to bring light to any situation, no matter how dark, by being a SOURCE of light.
No matter what is going on I can BE light by being kind and compassionate towards myself and others.
To me that is where this starts: By being kind and compassionate towards myself. Kindness would have me lower the bar, be easier on myself. Compassion lets me have my funk when I’m all leaned out for the day.
Gentleness is key to keep things light. I realize that gentleness is also what brought me back to myself, what helped me heal from my burnout. I will write more about that later.
In fact, many of the topics discussed here will come back in future posts. I considered letting you in on what I have planned for the next few weeks. I decided against that, because “lightness” calls for freedom. I don’t want to start off by boxing myself in, setting new expectations. Instead, this “going with the flow”-idea calls for allowing. Allowing inspiration to take me in new and unexpected directions. Allowing the freedom to take another break should the need arise. Or even to allow life to show up with an even better idea. Suffice it to say that it will be something that brings me light.
I could bring that light to you too. If you haven’t already, sign up for my blog I’ll deliver that light straight to your inbox.
Now I’d love to hear what this sparked for you. Take a moment to consider what your intention is for 2017. What would be your “word” for the year? And considering all this light business, what would bring more light for you?
It would really light me up to hear from you.