Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2016: One Word

A couple weeks ago during my Toastmasters meeting, I was asked to speak for two minutes about my New Year's Resolution. I was stumped. For the past few years, instead of making resolutions, I've used a word to guide my decisions and actions. One year, the word was "uncomfortable," and it meant that I deliberately put myself in uncomfortable positions to encourage personal growth. I enjoyed the challenges it brought and feel like I really learned a lot!

I've been deliberating on which word I'm going to pick for 2016. I'm definitely not going with "uncomfortable" again, because 2015 had far too many uncomfortable moments. I'm ready for something different. I've come up with a few options.

Simplify

Earlier this year, I read the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It's a book that outlines a process for tidying, decluttering, and simplifying. It's based on the premise that all items we own should bring us joy. If they don't, we should get rid of them. I haven't applied her methods yet, but I have worked on paring down my belongings. It's liberating to declutter and simplify my surroundings. I'd like to continue working on this process in 2016, especially because I now live in a small apartment and have very little storage space.

This concept also applies to who I surround myself with. It can be difficult to separate from people we've known a long time but who are energy drains. I'm sure you know some of those people too - the ones who always seem to suck the joy and energy out of the conversation or room. By paring down who I surround myself with, I'll allow myself to more fully experience those who bring joy to my life.

Organize

This concept is similar to "simplify" in that it also pertains to tidying. But it would be more than that - I would apply it not only to my surroundings but also to other areas of my life, especially the financial aspect. Trying to keep up with a growing travel schedule the past few years had a negative impact on my finances and I'm trying to dig out from under the accumulated debt. Organizing my finances would help prepare me for my goal of a debt-free future.

Live

I already started to apply this word this year, when I took the year off from competing and really focused on doing the things that I wanted to do. I lived for ME and not for anyone else. It was a complete 180 degree change from what I had done for the past five years, when I found myself compromising or completely giving in to someone else's thoughts and plans. In 2015, I began to really LIVE. I want to continue with this empowering feeling in 2016 by continuing to explore and to create new adventures and memories.

To be clear, this doesn't mean putting my own needs first all the time, or not listening to anyone else's thoughts and plans. It just means that I will stand up for myself and for what I want. I will make myself be heard in a gentle and kind, yet assertive way.

Release

As I was reading Christine Kane's blog, one reader's comment struck me. Her word of the year was "release," and just reading the word struck a chord with me. For me, this word means releasing thoughts and feelings that harbor negativity in my life, and releasing feelings of resentment, guilt, shame, and blame. I'm picturing opening a door in my heart and letting all of the negativity out so there's more room for new and positive things. 

When you open up to a word that will truly guide you, you’re letting your soul show you the way to your own wild, open-hearted, custom-made path of happy.

I'm going to ponder these words, the concepts, and what they would mean for me. When I do decide which word will be my 2016 word, I may join the One Word 365 community. I love the idea of connecting with others around the globe who have chosen the same word as me.
One Word 365 is more than a new way to approach resolutions. It’s a global tribe committed to journeying together and living intentionally. You can connect with others who have chosen the same word or live in your area. Together, we can inspire and challenge each other to live purposefully all year long.
Do you have a New Year's Resolution or do you pick a word? What's your word and how do you plan to apply it all year long?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Perspective

It's been nearly a year since I've written a blog post. In that time, my life has been on a rollercoaster of ups and downs, pain and happiness, loss and gain. I've cried, I've laughed, I've doubled over in pain, and I've jumped for joy.

This year ... I lived. I truly lived. Authentically and wholeheartedly.

Last year at this time, I was in a 6-year relationship, sharing a house with him, a dog, and two cats. This year, I'm in a different relationship, living in an apartment with one cat.

Last year I was unhappy, unsettled, and didn't know why. I felt like there should've been so much more to my life, but I was constricted, restrained, held back. There was so much I wanted to do and see, but felt like I couldn't for so many reasons. No one told me I couldn't do anything; it was more of a feeling deep down inside.

I was living half a life.

Pain
From the outside, it looked like everything was perfect. My boyfriend's business was taking off and it allowed us to travel frequently and to meet people we'd always admired. Doors that had previously been closed were now opened, and it was exhilarating. But it was all for him. I always felt like I was just tagging along. The girlfriend. The camera operator.

I thought something was wrong with ME. Why couldn't I be happier with my life?

Turns out, I was unhappy because I'd lost myself.

Who was I? What did I want? Why wasn't I doing the things I wanted to do? Except for work, I had made my life revolve around someone else. It had happened so gradually, I wasn't even aware of it ... until suddenly, it was like I woke up, looked around, and couldn't find Kari anywhere.

Finding myself again has taken some time. The first few months were difficult, as they are with most breakups. To add to it, my little Ginger cat was very sick with cancer, and I was bringing her to the vet twice a week to get fluid drained from her lungs. Two days after my birthday, I said goodbye to my little girlcat. Seven months later, I still get choked up thinking about her and force cuddle my other kitty, Ed, a little closer.

My sweet little Ginger cat
If I focus on all of the pain and sadness I experienced this year, I could think the year has been awful. One of the worst I've had in many years. But with loss, grief, sadness, and pain also comes growth and silver linings in dark clouds. If I focus on all of the pain, I lose sight of all of the good, wonderful, and joy I also experienced this year.

Joy
I met someone who is absolutely perfect for me. Our relationship is easy. Stress-free and drama-free. We get along so well and love exploring DC, creating memories and adventures together. With C, I feel like I can be myself and that's more than enough for him.

I love baseball, and last year I didn't go to any baseball games. This year I went to three: two Nationals and one Orioles game. I discovered that when I go to baseball games, the home team loses but I still have a blast!

Star Wars Day at Nationals Park
I love the beach and have wanted to spend a long weekend in Ocean City, Maryland for the past five years. Last year I went for the first time for only a day and a half. This year, I went for four and a half days ... and it was one of the highlights of my summer! C and I spent a day on Assateague Island and were able to get close to the wild horses. After reading and re-reading Misty of Chincoteague as a little girl, getting up close and personal with the horses was like fulfilling a childhood dream.

Chillin' with wild horses. Childhood dream come true!
I live 900 miles from my family, yet I got to see them five times this year! My brother and I ran a 10K race together at the end of April - I discovered I love to run. Whoda thunk?! My parents came out to visit twice - once specifically to go to a Nora Roberts book signing. My heart feels so full when I get to spend time with my family.

My brother and I at the finish line of the 10K race
C and I explored DC and Baltimore, making several trips to the Inner Harbor, National Harbor, and National Mall. I loved playing tourist, getting to know the area better.

C and me with my parents - playing tourists in DC
Memories
This year was all about making memories. There are some sad and painful memories and there are some happy and beautiful memories. They interweave to form a quilt of a year of personal growth. If I focus on all of the joy and happiness I experienced this year, I discover that in many ways, this was one of the best years of my life. It all comes down to perspective.

Usually, I focus on the positive in a situation - the silver lining. This year, I often struggled to find the sunshine through the clouds. I found myself saying, "I can't wait for this year to be over." But by saying that, I'm not acknowledging all of the good things that have happened - all of the joy and wonderful experiences I've had. Even in the darkest and most painful of days, I always had the knowledge that I was going to be ok. That I was going to be stronger because of my experiences. And I am.

In the past few months, I've had several people tell me how happy and peaceful I look. I smile and thank them, while wondering how they can really see that. What do they see that I didn't realize was there? The truth is, I'm happier now than I have been in a long time, and apparently it shows.

I found myself again. I found ME.

Our Happy Faces
And that's the best thing about this year. I'm looking forward to 2016. Not in an escaping-from-2015 way, but in a making-more-memories way. I'm focusing on the positive, choosing to view 2015 as the year I re-found myself and my happiness.

I'm looking forward to writing again, and sharing more memories and experiences with you.