On New Intentions

December 31st, 2009 - filed under: Furthermore » Inspiration

Everyone knows that the new year is a traditional time for starting over.

I was always the sort to eschew the new years resolutions. “Everyone always breaks them anyway,” I’d say. I think my friends and I all tried to quit smoking together one year. I lasted about 3 months – others didn’t even last the night.

But then in early 2008, I found myself in a very, very bad place. Would you believe I was a totally bitter, negative person? It’s true. I’d never dealt with depression before and it took me damn near a year to figure out what was going wrong. The sadness itself was brought on by a multitude of factors, but suffice to say it left me in a pretty bad way. I was lonely, lost, unmotivated, and squarely in the center of a quarter-life crisis. I knew I needed to do something radical, before I lost myself forever.

So I did. Not overnight and not without trial (and error), but I wrote a journal about the breakthrough, here, if you’re interested. I began to practice positivity as a lifestyle. I made sweeping changes, looked at myself critically, imagined what I wanted to become. A lot of the work I did during that time served as inspiration for this article. And of course, it led me here (among other places). Just a few months later I was launching Bonzai Aphrodite.

The turn of the year seemed a perfect time to put my vision down on paper. I do believe that having a reference point, the simple act of writing something down and thus entering it into the world, can be a powerful force in manifesting that goal. I had 10 new intentions that I kept in a Word doc on my desktop. It’s entitled 2009 – Living the Dream, and along with my ‘resolutions’, I record my strategies for happiness, my sources of inspiration, and a list of the books I’ve read (I always try to read more than I did the year before). I make sure to open it at least once a month, to read over my 10 intentions and remember the bigger picture.

Resolutions for a New Year:

1) I can be whoever I want to be.
3) Practice being a good wife. Be good to Damian. Try to make sure that every day, his life is better because of me.
4) Make realistic, ambitious lists. Cross off everything. Then, allow satisfaction and relaxation.
5) GET PREGNANT IN 2009. Get happy before getting pregnant. Get happy.
6) Enjoy food. Eat healthily. Eat with intention and moderation and pleasure.
7) Walk the boys every day I am able.
8) Exercise every day I am able.
9) Worry less about money. Worry less about the future. Worry less.
0) Never get a ‘real’ job in 2009!

This year there are less intentions – I’m coming from a very different place, after all. But I still have a few (always will, I hope!), and on new years day I’ll write them down in a new Word doc.

What about you, my dears? Do you believe in setting intentions? Do you you make new year’s resolutions, or are you more the type to skip the gimmick?

Lots of Love and wishing you all the best and brightest year of your lives!

  • http://kpapoulias.blogspot.com/ Kathryn

    I’ve never been able to hold New Year’s Resolutions, but I’m usually pretty good at finishing to-do lists! I always keep a few lying around. I make goals every day – why wait for the new year? :)
    I’m happy that you’re happy; I think we all need a break-down every once in a while, a sort of mental health month.

  • Lili

    Hello! I stumbled upon your site a few months ago and ever since I’ve been regularly coming back to read your posts. I am amazed by the wonderful work you do here and I just wanted to thank you for this post. You are so right: worry less.

  • http://myspace.com/sinesteticimusic Sinestetici

    Oh yay! I’m so happy you linked to this post in “veganpeople”. Like the person above, I really enjoy reading what you have to say in the various communities we both belong in; you truly do have such a kind disposition and it’s hard to believe you were ever bitter (as you mentioned before). Thanks for being an inspiration to so many random people :D

  • http://katehateseverything.blogspot.com Kate from SB

    I have one resolution this year: Have fun.

  • http://hollowstar.com/blog Janine

    Love your comments on atheism and embracing it.

    Maybe I missed it somewhere, but do you do anything else as a career, or do you only blog?

  • Kelly

    I used to be the type to say “Bollocks to New Year Resolutions” as well. Why set my sights too high and risk disappointment? Why should a new year mean anything less than trying to be what I try to be on a daily basis – kind, positive, compassionate etc. But I have since changed my view, partly because I believe in the power of energy and intention and partly because, well, I’ll take inspiration and motivation wherever I can get it! :o) I recently recapped the last 10 years, year by year, for an old friend I reconnected with and it made me realize just how unique each one can be. One year, I titled “The year of new experiences” and so it was! So, that also inspires me to make sure each year starts off well and with good intention, regardless of how, inevitably, it may change against my whim!

    2009 was challenging for me on many levels, so I look forward to a happier and very different new year. I haven’t set my resolutions yet, but I will probably type them up for good measure.

    Good luck to you in 2010!!

  • Sarah B

    Hey there, fellow biologist-March 10 due date-Aquarian (etc etc). Wow, do you save up all your positivity and let it out once daily into the pages of your blog? I am impressed, because I would be mopey indeed if I were confined to my bed!

    I typically don’t make resolutions, but I like your number 3 above, and I will try and think about that every day. The other ones I will work on are learning how to be a good mother (it is super scary to write that one out, even), and making slow and steady progress on the renovation of our 1915 American Foursquare. Oh, and starting a garden plot in the backyard, with tomatoes, basil, and lettuce, at least. And maintaining my scientific life, and a good balance with family responsibilities. Phew, I think that’s enough.

    So glad to see you are feeling well enough to post again — you’ve been in my thoughts frequently over the holidays.

  • http://flightsofthevalkyrie.blogspot.com/ Valerie

    First I want to say: I am so glad that you are feeling better, and I hope that your bed/couch rest sails by.
    I am a list person. I make to do lists for almost everyday, especially now that I’m unemployed and need every once of motivation I can get. I’ve made weekly to do lists, long term lists, life goal lists. I usually make a list of goals each year, although sometimes they don’t get made until as late as May. Today I looked at my list of goals and reported on my blog how I did. Tomorrow I will post my goals for 2010.

  • http://hautemacabre.com Samantha

    This is the first year I’m ever making resolutions, and my number one is QUIT SMOKING. I’m making the rest of my list today, and I’m going to keep it realistic and not punish myself if I don’t stick to it. 2009 has been so completely life changing, and I want to keep it on the good path.

    I’m still so sad I didn’t get to see you while I was in Portland!

  • Melisa

    I could not have read this at a better (or worse?) time. I feel exactly the way you described. Lost, unmotivated. I may not be at rock bottom, but I’m falling. I somehow sensed your blog would have something to say to me. I realize you don’t believe in God, but I do, and I believe my praying led me to this post. I am going to read the journal you linked to, and try to “practice positivity” myself. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Katie

    So First off i have to say that you are very inspiring:) I’m going to be 20 years old in 20 days. I just read both of those articles about finding yourself, and i must say for the past year i have felt extemely lost. I’m trying to improve myself and stay positive. I write quite a bit and it does help. I was just woundering if you had any other tips on learning to motivate ones self. Thanks so much <3

  • http://sdvegan.blogspot.com Allison

    I don’t know that I have ever made a resolution before. This year I am excited to say that in 2010 I will plant a garden. (I’m finding it ridiculously hard to find a place to start). I also would like to try to worry and stress less. Oh, and talk to people more often (as I tend to be a little anti-social/shy)! I hope your 2010 is filled with much joy!

  • Dylan

    So, I read your ‘quarter life crisis’ entry and your ‘living your dream’ article. First I would like to reiterate everyone’s responses to your recent hiatus from the site and your auspicious return. My thoughts, prayers go to your health (and et al)and my joy and gratitude to your strength and support. Second I would like to express that I think writing intentions down can be very powerful and expressing them publicly even more so.

    Regarding your thoughts on depression, uniqueness and going for it in life: very inspiring, esp. since we all know how far you have come in line with your intentions. I feel (Have felt for some time and even more so now that you have shared more personally some of your past and your vision/philosophy for life)much resonance with you. My response is that I don’t believe that the spiritual truth that we all matter, we all are special, and that we all are deserving is not contradictory to the scientific fact that we all have our own unique DNA, fingerprints, name and address, SSN, DL#, and size, shape and color of our various body parts (the smallness of one’s cervix e.g.). We are scientifically unique and spiritually equal (or part of the same One). I think what you were talking about is the untrue and non-factual idea that we are more special, more deserving and matter more than others.

    I also want to say that living your dream is not the only piece of making your life work. I have lived my dream several times in my life, living according to my own values, my own vision, and my own philosophy. This has meant some extremely happy, rewarding and fulfilling times for me and I wouldn’t trade that in for anything. However, recently I have reached the darkest hour of my life. I have had my share of dark times in the past but this one very nearly obliterated all of it, the bright and the dark. I do not think that that makes living your dream meaningless or ineffectual but I do think that in my case at least some sense of reality was also needed. I now am trying to put my life back together again with lots of support, but I see my biggest challenge as being getting real on a very fundamental level.

    So for what it’s worth I put that out there. And thank you for sharing yourself so nakedly and for being such a profound inspiration. Go Sayward! <3

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Kathryn – Oh yes, I am a year-round compulsive list maker!

    @ Lili – Thank you so much. =) And yes, worry less is one I’m actually surprised to have accomplished, although that’s an ongoing process. it will definitely continue into the next year . . .

    @ Sinestetici – Aw, thank you. And it’s great to see you here. Welcome!

    @ Kate from SB – Lady, I think that is a damn good resolution. Here’s to hoping I can be a part of it. =)

    @ Janine – Embracing my atheism was a huge step for me, and SO empowering and liberating. It was a critical component in the process of really ‘living my truth’.

    I *do* have work that brings in income (it’s relalted to my biology degree), though I wish wish wish I could be a full time blogger. I suppose everybody would define ‘real job’ a bit differently. To me, a real job is something that would require me to
    a) leave the house
    b) take off the pajamas
    So in that way, although I do real work, I do not have a real job. I am very thankful for that!

    @ Kelly – I really loved reading this comment and I totally agree with you. And good luck to you too! I think 2010 is going to turn everything on its head (in a good way)!!!

    @ Sarah B – Sarah! I’ve been meaning to email you, I’ve just been very introverted the past few weeks with all this pregnancy-health stuff going on. I hope you understand.

    Your intentions are, not surprisingly, very similar to mine this year. And quite a load! Good luck with everything, I know what you mean about writing out ‘learn to be a good mother’ (WHAT!?) – I look forward to emailing with you soon!

    @ Valerie – Hello, fellow list-maker. =) It’s a great habit. In 2010, I’m wishing you luck in finding lucrative and meaningful employment (if that’s what you’re seeking). I know unemployment can be scary, especially n this economy, but it can also be such an amazing opportunity. You begin the new year with a completely blank canvas. Think of the beautiful picture you can paint!!!

    @ Samantha – I’m so happy for you lady. Dream big, don’t flog yourself for coming up short, and keep moving forward – that’s what I say! I now you’ve wanted to quit for a while, so I’m wishing you all all all my hippy-love-long-distance-vibes-of-good-luck!

    @ Melisa – I’m so glad you have found something helpful here. I do believe in prayer (another word for ‘intention’, right?) I *have* been there and although I’m sorry to hear that you are there now, I also know that growing out of a place like that can only lead to a stronger, better you. You will learn so much and I truly believe you’ll be able to create a better place for yourself. You have all my support – email me if you ever want to chat.

    @ Katie – It sounds like a lot of people are going through a similar trial. Perhaps it’s just a natural part of the ‘blossoming’ process (I don’t like the term ‘growing up’). But I’m thinking I need to write another article on my experiences with practicing positivity. In the meantime, here are a few thoughts:

    Banishing negative thoughts was one of the most difficult, but most rewarding, practices I undertook. Try to become aware of every negative thought that flits through your mind (for me this was A LOT more than I realized), and then catch it, and then throw it away. Either replace it with a positive thought, or simple relax your entire body and smile (you’ll notice that when you have a negative thought, you tense up). Don’t try to make ‘no negative thoughts’ the goal, because that’s impossible. It’s how you manage them that’s the trick, and if you can do that you’ll see them greatly decrease in number.

    I hope that’s the kind of thing you were looking for. I believe that we can change our thought patterns and by doing so, we change the way that we experience the world around us. Good luck! And feel free to email me any time.

    @ Allison – Those are great goals. And the same to you – a joyful 2010 for everyone! =)

    @ Dylan – Thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself. The line “We are scientifically unique and spiritually equal” is so beautiful to me.

    I think the problem that we can run into when trying to ‘live our dream’, is that dreams change, and we change. And of course, there is always ‘reality’. I have had trouble reconciling these two poles and it sounds like that is what you are experiencing as well. How to stay true to oneself while still remaining ‘viable’ in this society. It’s a delicate balance, and different for everyone. Is this the sort of thing that you’re writing about?

    It makes me sad to hear that you’re going through a difficult time, but I’m glad that you have support in your journey. It’s also great to see you back here – I was afraid you’d disappear with the garden weather! It’s always so good to hear from you. =)

    Wishing you all the best in 2010. Take care, and good luck with everything.

  • Pingback: I’m ready! | Polymind