stepping into a new chapter

I love beginnings.  (I also love a great ending, but that’s a story for a different day).

Starting a new day, a new week, a new month—or the big momma of them all—the new year, provides (for the optimists among us) the chance to make things a bit better, improve upon those aspects of our life we’d really love to kick to the curb.

I have certainly tried any number of approaches to maximize this opportunity:  resolutions, lists, promises, resolves, gym memberships, and the like, but most of that seemed to work against me in the long run.  And so, for a number of years, I didn’t do anything at all because I preferred flat-lining (i.e. repeating old patterns) to the reverberations of disappointment and frustration that generally followed my high-minded attempts at transforming my life.

And then?  I fell into a bit of good luck with the word ‘practice.’  Instead of some full-out wonder woman jumping out of a phone booth instant change, I began to focus on practicing what it was I wanted more of in the very smallest of ways, daily ways.

When I wasn’t successful, it was no big deal—I was just practicing and could shrug it off to try again the next day. 

But the funny thing was, when I was successful it felt huge and great and energizing and gave me more mojo to keep it going.

The fact is, there is a reason my spirit animals are a bunny and a fox—I tend to be timid, prefer slipping out of sight and definitely gravitate toward a quieter, gentler approach in most things—and so initiating the art of practice into my daily life, was the ideal way for me to bring about change in a more gradual, organic manner.

I know that this is not for everyone and I would never suggest that it could be—I simply wanted to share it in case it was helpful to someone else who wanted to use the fresh start energy of a new year in a way that felt strong and supportive of their intention.

Since developing this approach, I can tell you my life has changed more dramatically than I could have possibly imagined—and, in fact, I never would have imagined the changes.  So for 2012—I am going to try it once again.

My practice for the year ahead is to tell a new story.

For me, this means when asked to tell ‘why’ or ‘what happened’ or somehow explain the causative events leading up to a situation—I am no longer going to rehash old hurts, wounds, or experiences through the lens I have previously used.  Either the story is put to rest permanently or the tale is retold from a brand-new perspective that puts the emphasis on all that I learned and all the good that came from that experience.

I know, right?  Pollyanna incarnate—but not really.  What I prefer is the language that Pixie shared with me last October—strong medicine.  Isn’t that awesome?  If you truly seek to learn from what happened and take ownership of bringing it into your life no matter how genuinely awful or unwanted it may be—then, it can be seen as strong medicine to inoculate and/or cure the original source of the crisis.

Anyway—that’s my plan.  I intend to practice telling a new story—and catch myself when I find myself rolling out the old yarns.

Do you have a new practice for the year ahead?  If you do, please share—I’d love to hear about it and hold the intention for you.

Whatever your plans—may the year ahead be filled with all that you love most.

bisous, e

*photos by thea coughlin



Comments RSS

celisa said:
first off....GORGEOUS photos of you!

second, i love this idea....practicing. it seems more of a continuous process rather than a one step deal.

my 2011 was about releasing. my 2012 is about setting myself free, instead of releasing it's moving's about movement....the word 'leap' is swirling in my head.
stacy said:
grace said:
"tell a new story" lovely, thank you

michelle said:

love this E!

and CELISA...leap sounds perfect for you!

this practice of choosing a word for my year has been incredibly helpful to 2010 it was expand, in 2011 it was expand and fire...both surfacing powerfully in my life. i love how when you bring attention to something, it begins to manifest...

this year i know i'm adding the practice of silliness into my life. my go-to has always been a literal interpretation of the world...and i'm ready to lighten up, laugh more, play more...with abandon, without anxiety that i'm not getting it all done or doing it all "right"! though, i do feel i want to add in something else -- a serious note to balance myself out, but i'll have to get back to you after i sit with it a little bit this weekend.


Bella said:
Beautiful, Liz. What I know for sure is that we can begin a new page in our story any day, any time. Blessings to you, girlie. You always inspire me. xo
Val said:
Lovely! Can't wait for June!
celisa said:
yes michelle! :) i've been toying with words the past week or two....and leap symbolizes the accumulation of all the words i've been marinating on.

gosh i can't wait to see you women again!
barb said:
Thank you for the reminder of "practice"-it's a powerful word for me too-a way of being gentle with ourselves.
lizardek said:
I have a good feeling about 2012. My goal is to rejuvenate my creative side and to consider happiness as a given.
maegan said:
There is so much that is simply fantastic in this post! From the idea of making 'practice' the goal to the idea of telling a new story! Both have given me some new ideas to ponder as we approach the new year! Thanks!
jen gray said:
I have always resisted the word "resolution" and find the word "practice" so much more my kind of language. In sharing our intentions for our desired practice, maybe we can remind each other throughout the year when things get a little cloudy :)
My practice this year? Think of Maude, as in Harold and Maude. I love her carefree ways and I love how she gets life. Its been a rough couple years and I'm ready to get back to my true way of being.

Kerstin said:
Elizabeth, I know you said on your other blog that you only have the one voice but I have to say, you do sound a little different on here. A bit more 'serious' perhaps, although that is not really the right word but hopefully you know what I mean.

I loved this post and it resonated on many levels, especially this bit "I tend to be timid, prefer slipping out of sight and definitely gravitate toward a quieter, gentler approach in most things." I tend to slip out of sight but for next year I am daring myself to become more visible. Alas, without losing sight of the gentler approach that I, too, prefer.

For the last few years I have chosen a word instead of resolutions and that has worked very well. And now I am excited about combining my work with a practice, I have a feeling the two will go well together!

Happy New Year! Kerstin
Kathleen said:
I love the word practice, it's got rehearsal and try, try again and performance and perseverence and all kinds of delicious things inside!

For the past couple of years I've played with developing range by paying attention to shades of grey. Carrying a paint chip card helped focus me on moving away from binary thinking toward more subtle and nuanced ways of being.

I haven't chosen a word before but that idea really resonates. Where's my thesaurus?

Barb said:
Love this post. You are a thoughtful inspiration to me. I will practice inviting prosperity into my life. I will practice acceptance, and let go of expectations. This will be good practice for me. Thank you for sharing your practices. Here's to a year filled with positive energy and much love. Gracious thank you.
mary said:
I've never been one to make resolutions, nor have I ever chosen an intention word for the year, but embrace has bubbled to the surface and seems appropriate at this moment as I've recently taken a small successful leap toward following my true heart. And there's that term pollyanna again, which a friend and coworker used to describe me earlier this year and which, despite its current unflattering association with viewing the world through rosy glasses, I will continue to embrace for it's original meaning of eternal optimism, something I think we all need more of.
Michelle F. said:
Yes, Yes, Yes! I haven't picked a word yet but it will have to do with moving my big dreams, piece by piece, into reality (I've got a fox guide too and a slow burning fire is what I'm feeling right now). This is all thanks to Squam and the utterly amazing women I have met there. So much gratitude to this circle.
michelle said:
JEN - can you believe I've never seen Harold & Maude? I need to watch that stat so i understand what you're going for :)

KATHLEEN - i love the idea of carrying a paint chip around as a reminder of shades of grey...really brilliant. it's so easy to get caught up in black & white thinking, isn't it? curious what you decide on for your practice/word/intention once you find your thesaurus, of course... :)

ALL - i just had an idea for a special little something for all our words & practices so we can help each other remember - so keep them coming!!

Sam said:
I love the thought of considering it all a practice - even though, as a music major in my college days, the practice room was something I dreaded and avoided. Such is the foolishness of a stubborn young thing! But now I see it as gentle and kind. I am not sure of my word for the year - last year it was stretch, and I did stretch in many ways. Sending you much love as we turn the page into a new year. I know it holds goodness and grace for you, my friend.
michelle gd said:
i am so right there with you on this idea of practice. with this idea [of practice] there is much more room for freedom, exploration, acceptance; less room for broken rules, disappointment. no set expectations...just showing up to do our daily work.

my practice this year will involve the word inspiration...i will practice inspiring myself/others and fully embracing my creative soul.
mona said:
Love your post and the glourious pictures of you. I love the word practice. For me the past few years, since my first SAW, have been a stuggle to find the balance to do what i love to do and the responsibilities my life has. It will be all about balance. As a recovering perfectionist and type A - i feel I have it made it to an A-, my goal is to get to a type B +... practice balance...
Kathleen said:
Michelle -- paint chips are brilliant as book marks, especially if you have some kind of meaning attached to the colors. And I think my word for 2012 is going to be leap.
michelle said:
ALL - happy new year!

have you seen Susannah Conway's Unravelling the Year Ahead Workbook?

She posted it on her blog last's such a beautiful gift she puts out into the world...and a really fantastic way to help solidify and clarify your intentions for the next hear. Below is the link where you can download it (sorry the link isn't clickable - a bug we need to fix here, so copy & paste the link into your browser)

this is what i'll be working on this morning...hope you have a lovely sunday!

Heather said:
I love this. These photo's are gorgeous! This year I'm practicing being me without apology. I'm tired of hiding behind masks. I've chosen to be brave and embrace the word {Warrioress} for 2012
Jen Gray said:
HEATHER, loved the post on your blog, and we support your journey to warrioress!
MICHELLE, I would LOVE to be a part of practicing the silly :)
MONA, you are probably the only one I know who has wanted to go from an A to a B! Love that! B's have a lot more fun :)
KATHLEEN, I'm going to think of a color that best represents my practice for this year and am going to get my paint chip on!

love all the sharing that is going on here....
jen gray
louise said:
Thank you Elizabeth...for Squam and everyone else gathered around in a virtual circle that continues...that 4 days has made ALL the difference to me in the last 4 months. I intend to practice the beauty and creativity offered there all year into 2012 with gratitude abundant for the friendships and inspiration! I heard children and teachers sing this in late December... I Iike it..."This is a New Year"...
Michelle Rogerson said:
Great post, Michelle, and a wonderful perspective of practice. I generally set intentions, but what I really did this year was look back. I looked to see what I had accomplished or how I had grown and evaluated if I am indeed on the right path and decided what small adjustments I should make that would continue to lead me down the right path. Then after taking a few steps back and seeing the full picture, I'm all set with my intentions. Happy New Year!!!
KCLAnderson (Karen) said:
I was directed here through Kersten at Conversations Over Soup because the word I chose for 2012 is practice :-) I love your take on it (especially the tweak for 2012). I hope to have my post about "practice" up today!
tingle said:
I love Kathleen's idea and I will be making a trip to Home Depot in the morning for a new set of "bookmarks". . . in the meantime my word for the year is more of a phrase: "to be present". To commit to living my life more and more in the moment and sucking the marrow out of each and every day, to walk through the world with the bald eye of a writer, taking copious notes and leaving a trail of poems in my wake. My way of telling a new story...
Thea said:
Practice... Hmmm... Great word. At first I thought of yoga and lerning something new, then the idea of habitual doing...which I do in a couple areas of my life and not does it work...and then I thought how much freedom comes with focusing on practice which comes with the idea that I am not supposed to be perfect. Michelle touched on that do beautifully. And telling a new story...yes this is the best part of this post for me tonight. Was jut having a talk with Terry tonight about how we tell stories and how some that I share can br sometimes told from the negative with drama. I chose to practice a new way of storytelling because it is the growth and the strength that I want to walk forward with. The rest can be left behind. Lovely to hear your thoughts and reflections. You are so wiser friend.
Thea said:
Oh my I typed this on my phone so so sorry for the typos. Must go to bed! Practice does work not sure where the not came from.
jen gray said:
LOUISE, that song/video is awesome! LOVE IT!
MICHELLE, love the idea of looking back and "making adjustments" rather than looking back and feeling lousy for things that didn't work.
KAREN, loved your post, thank you for sharing :)
TINGLE, what color paint chips are you collecting?
THEA, I totally hear you on the new way of storytelling. And please don't ever become perfect in your typing skills, because I like being in the company of someone who also bumbles while typing on the phone!
xo jen
Karen said: this, looking at the story from a new perspective, through the eyes you have grown into!

comments powered by Disqus