Intentions

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I’m in such a happy place.

It’s not often that I say that – more out of fear of exaggeration than out of accuracy – but I am so currently happy.

It’s 65 degrees outside for the second time since October. As I type this it’s 6:48 p.m. on a Wednesday, and the sun is STILL OUT, and I’m sitting in a coffee shop because I’m done with work for the day and I almost risked being bored tonight, which is also HAPPY. Let the record show there is room to breathe as myself. 

Also, hi again. Let’s be friends, shall we?

I’ve been wanting to share my intentions for this year with you. This blog was created around those intentions, in 2013, and sharing them here drove that year in such a wonderful way. They were my drivers, my roadmap to health and happiness, and that year they were effective. Last year, I got off course. I hit a snafu in achieving my goals early on, and then out of guilt never revisited them.

This year my intentions have changed, as has my need for self-compassion. What I usually rattle off as goals are now intentions. They are meant to be practiced, and they are meant to serve as a North Star, but they are neither forceful nor measured.

My intentions for 2015:

1. Practice joy. I have an amazing opportunity this year, one that I’ll never have again in the same way. This year I live in Chicago, and more than ever I have the opportunity to capitalize on what that means, both through relationships I make and exploration of the city itself. I resolve to make the most of this opportunity, by prioritizing the joy that new people and new experiences bring. I intend to have fun, be proactive about developing friendships, and see what Chicago has to offer.

April update: This has been the best intention yet. Though it wasn’t articulated in the resolution, prioritizing joy has helped me to nurture existing friendships (Who knew calling people just to talk could be so satisfying?), and that has been the single-most effective boost in my happiness this year.

2. Prioritize my mental health and wellbeing. Over the last few years, I’ve wondered when the urge to prioritize a mental state of calm would strike. I’ve been silently waiting for something – a faint whisper, perhaps – to tell me now is the time to practice meditation, or stop letting my mind churn over pointless, resentful thoughts. And that never happened; I never heard that whisper. But whisper aside, this is the year I start. Elevating my mental health and wellbeing means cultivating a daily meditation practice, letting go of residual anger, and developing a gratitude practice.

April update: This practice has been all about self-compassion. I meditate weekly — rather than daily as I’d like to — and I’ve resolved to write in my gratitude journal every time I take the train to work, which also happens about weekly. But that’s okay; knowing that it’s the practice, and not a goal I’m failing, has been instrumental in picking this practice back up, week after week. 

3. Practice writing. I recognize that writing is a work in progress, and something that will never develop if I don’t give it the time or space. Therefore, my goal is not to produce work; rather, it’s to create that daily time and space to practice writing, in whatever form works best for me. And because these go hand in hand, I’d like to create more time to read, before bed and in lieu or mindless television.

April update: Ahh… the most intimidating of them all. Writing is my procrastination’s end… the thing that happens after the entire house has been cleaned, and my taxes have been filed, and I’ve cooked enough for the week. I’m glad I’m posting this to publicly remind myself that this is my favorite — and most neglected — practice. 

4. Prioritize my physical health and wellbeing. Always! This is the key to making 2015 happen. It involves having fun when I exercise, making a plan, and giving myself the flexibility to revamp it when I need to. This means continuing to prioritize fresh, quality food, and cooking from wonderful teachers like Alice Waters. This means, more than anything, stopping eating when I’m full. This is something I’ve only sporadically practiced over the last five years, and more than any other, I plan to cultivate this habit this year. I’d also love to set mini-goals for myself, like finishing my 100 days of crow, or attending a yoga workshop over the summer.

April update: As usual, there’s plenty to talk about on this front. This intention is always present, and I’m always working toward it!

I hope you’re having a warm, happy Wednesday night. Cheers to a wonderful year!

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