The way to achieve your New Year’s resolution is to achieve equilibrium.

If you give something up, you have to take something on. If you simply stop doing a bad habit, all you’ll do is think about it if you don’t replace it with a good habit.

One year I gave up smoking pot for Lent, only to drink alcohol every day instead. Then, when I gave up smoking pot completely, I started smoking clove cigarettes instead. The solution was to learn what I was trying to avoid and learn how to face it, and to start nourishing my creative side through art and writing.

Likewise, if you start doing something, you have to stop doing something else to make room for it. You only have so much money, time, and energy. Be sure that what you give up is something you need to give up. You can’t cut out sleep or food or work. These are immovable things, and necessary.

When I decided to commit to writing at least one blog post a day, I had to spend less time online checking Facebook. And I learned that deciding to eat lunch at work rather than going out every day meant I ate better, saved money, and had more time to walk, read, or work on writing projects.

Another thing to remember about resolutions is to pace yourself. Remember the phrase “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? Neither are good habits and life changes. Do a little bit every day towards your goal and you’ll get there. Have patience with yourself and the process, but keep moving in the right direction. Look at everything you are doing – does it support your goal? Then do it. If it doesn’t, then don’t.

Our minds are like puppies.

Our minds are like puppies. If we don’t train them they will go everywhere. It is like the difference between the German words “fressen” and “essen”. One is like how an animal eats, the other is like how humans eat. Both are satisfying your needs, but one is civilized and under control.

What is helping me gain control of my mind is prayer. Just like how prayer helps me be mindful and focus before a meal, it is helping me before everything else.

God is the potter and I am the clay. Clay is only useful to the potter if it is flexible and pliable. Then it is fired – a hard process on the clay, to be sure. Then it becomes a vessel, able to hold what is necessary.

We all need water but it is the cup that holds it. The cup does not nourish or refresh but it carries what does. Likewise, we are merely vessels for the love of God. We are to carry it to others and share it.

Sure I slip in my routine. I forget how important discipline (being a disciple) is. Then I have to return to my routine, my order, to become civilized again. I repent (return). With some parts of my routine I slip daily, even hourly. I am not fully in alignment.

The mustard seed idea helps me. The fact that I desire to do it means that (a) God wants me to do it and (b) it is possible. So sometimes I jump a few steps ahead, saying if God wills it then I’m already there. Not that I believe it could possibly one day occur but that it is a reality that I just haven’t lived into yet.

You know how you plan to go on a trip, and you pack and prepare for it? You have a goal in mind and you work towards that goal. All your efforts are directed there – you buy your tickets, pack, and read up on the place you are going for ideas of things to do when you get there. You might save up money in the months before the trip. Everything you do is directed towards that goal. You aren’t there yet but you know you are going. Then one day you are there. It didn’t just happen. Any life goal is the same.

Poem – path

The path that leads away, also leads to me.
It isn’t just for me to walk to the unknown.
The unknown now knows how to find me.

We are on the same path, it and I.

It, like the father of the prodigal son, is coming to me.

That which I am seeking is seeking me as well.

It is no longer a one day, someday goal.
It is already here, on this path, with me.

Intention – goals, Alice, and English roundabouts.

At the beginning of some yoga classes the teacher will invite you to set an intention. This is a prayer, or a hope, or a goal. It is a focus point. It is a way of aiming yourself in the right direction.

I offer you this insight from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where…
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.

So you need to set an intention, otherwise you’ll end up just anywhere. You’ll wander off aimlessly and end up years later wondering how you got there. You got there because you drifted along with the stream.

Sometimes it isn’t planning to fail, but failing to plan that is the problem.

This is true mentally and physically. Where do you want to go? Do you have a business plan? Do you have a career plan? Do you have a spiritual plan? This isn’t about the “name it and claim it” trend – it is about being awake and intentional about life. I don’t believe in “wish-craft”. I do believe that everything worth having in life is made up of little tiny steps. You have to have a plan, and you have to work towards that.

Neil Gaiman in his “Make Good Art” book said that when he first started out he envisioned where he wanted to be as a mountain. He’d look at whatever job was offered him and measure it up as to whether it moved him closer to the mountain or further away. This seems like a good idea. Does this little thing get me closer to where I want to be?

Life is cumulative. A college degree is made up of many classes and many tests. It didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of little steps, going towards a goal. Everything built on top of everything. If you took a class and read a book and attended a lecture on your own with no goal in mind, you might learn something but it wouldn’t add up to anything specific. You will have frittered away your time, aimlessly wandering. You’d end up nowhere, lost.

This reminds me of when I was on a trip in England with my aunt. She was driving and I was navigating. I’d give directions as to what leg of the roundabout to take and she’d sometimes pay attention. She’d take the third leg instead of the fourth and we’d be hurtling down, getting further and further away from where we wanted to be. English roundabouts aren’t like American interstates. If you get off on the wrong one you can’t turn around and right yourself anytime soon. You’ll be at least thirty minutes away down the wrong road before you get to another roundabout where you can reorient yourself. She could have stayed in the roundabout, going around again to aim at the correct leg, but she didn’t. This happened a lot.

After several days of this I relinquished my role as navigatrix. Why bother telling her where to go when she was going to ignore me anyway?

So, my point is to aim. Plan ahead. Have some idea of where you want to go, because either you’ll stay stuck where you are, or you’ll end up really far away from your goal. What do you want to be doing ten years from now? How are you going to get there? Sometimes it takes baby steps in that direction. Just keep aiming that way, keep walking.

And don’t get in a car with my aunt.

Letter to myself.

One of my dreams is to make custom beaded jewelry for Nashville recording artists. I have no idea if this will ever happen. But I have to start somewhere. I make jewelry. I have it for sale online. I’ve been to craft shows and sold my work. People know I make jewelry. So eventually it will pick up steam and get going.

But I have to do something. I have to make the jewelry. I have to post pictures and descriptions on my Etsy page, Beaded Retort. I have to cast my bread upon the water. These things don’t just happen without some effort.

I want to write a book. But how do you write a book? Word by sentence by paragraph by chapter. Bit by bit. So every post I write is a step towards this. Who knows where this is going? I’m just happy that I’m writing again. And I like the fact that people don’t have to pay to read my musings.

I want to be a peace negotiator. I want to bridge understanding between cultures. So I read about different cultures. I take classes on dialogue versus debate. I’m aware of different conflict negotiation centers nearby. Something might come up that will be a great class at a great price.

I’m building connections with all these things. And I’m working towards these goals.

I’m reminded of the number of people that Jesus made work. They had to go do something to get healed. I feel like there is a reason behind my struggles.

I push myself. I feel like a baby bird, pecking away at the egg. Soon I will break free and flap my little wet wings.

It is hard for me sometimes. I’m quite the introvert. I’d rather stay home most of the time. I get overwhelmed with sensory input often. Because I’m bipolar I have to be careful not to get off balance with exercise and rest and over stimulation. But I know that if I stay home nothing will happen. I keep pushing, taking classes, meeting with people, going to shows.

I don’t really know where I’m going but I know I’m on my way. It is interesting, this journey. I feel like I am watching myself become myself.