Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Your Achievements for this Year

If you're like most people, you've been mentally reviewing events of this year; usually it's a mix of things we liked, and things we're not that crazy about. However, I must say that for me, it's been a very good year.

Those of you who are divorced, or who are close to someone who's had that experience, can all appreciate a year without divorce. Or maybe for someone else, it's a year without surgery, a year without chemotherapy, a year without losing a job.

So, a year with no separations, divorce, moves or job changes, made for a very smooth 2008 for my family. However, I know a lot of you facing health challenges,financial anxiety, and even the loss of a loved one. One cannot deny the appearance of sorrowful developments, the question really is how to respond to them.

Fortunately, a dear reader sent me some insight into this very question yesterday morning. She shared with me a different perspective on the word "joy" which she got from a young mother who recently died of cancer. This young woman named Emilie gained rich understanding in reading a passage from Kitchen Table Wisdom, a book of reflections by Rachel Naomi Remen:

Joy seems to be a part of an unconditional will to live, not holding back because life may not meet our preferences and expectations. Joy seems to be a function of the willingness to accept the whole, and to show up to meet with whatever is there. It has a kind of invincibility that attachment to any particular outcome would deny us … the willingness to win or lose moves us out of an adversarial relationship to life and into a powerful kind of openness. From such a position, we can make a greater commitment to life. Not only pleasant life, or comfortable life, or our idea of life, but all life. Joy seems more closely related to aliveness than to happiness.

No matter what you're facing, it's worthwhile to stop and take account of what you have accomplished, given the resources and constraints of your situation.

I just today turned in another chapter of my dissertation, and my first impulse was to get super busy with other things, which I did. But I'm taking time right now to write out my accomplishments for 2008 as part of my preparing for the upcoming year.

I'll share some of mine just to get you thinking about yours:

- Swam at the ECU pool most weeks, usually twice. I'm now up to 80 laps.

- I turned in 4 chapters of my dissertation.

- I invested.

- I gave a birthday party for myself.

- I laughed till my sides ached while playing Scattergories (highly recommended game, btw.)

- I got the oil in my car changed twice, with no emotional breakdown (that was a 2007 event.)

- I started this blog.

- I got a business license, business checking account, and business cards.

- I bought a set of nice sheets.

- I travelled to Venezuela.

- I participated in an e-course called Great Big Dreams, by Christine Kane.

- I gave two academic presentations.

Well, you get the idea. I didn't win any lottery, I didn't finish my dissertation, I haven't bought a house...there are many things I would have liked to have accomplished. But keep in mind it's better to reach for the stars and fall a bit short, than to aim for the fence and hit it.

Take a moment and think, what did you accomplish this year? Write it down and celebrate.